How To Build Your Blog To Drive Measurable Results
Anyone can blog. Create text, audio or video content and distribute it via feeds (aka RSS), email and/or social sharing to become a media entity.
However, blogging underscores the need to develop quality content that lays the foundation for thought leadership and builds an audience that leads to business success.
The challenge facing bloggers, especially newbies, in 2015 is breaking through the tsunami of information. It’s not just other bloggers, you’re up against short-term tactics like formulaic clickbait and non-stop social media updates.
But don’t lose hope.
Problogger’s Darren Rowse believes there’s an opportunity to stand out as a blogger by creating meaningful content that wins readers’ hearts and minds.
Copyblogger’s Brian Clark recommends bloggers to think like a media entity because “Content marketing starts an experience.”
With 5 years of blogging experience, I’ve found that Actionable Marketing Guide provides the basis for credibility and trust for readers, students and clients.
To do this with your blog, you must answer these 2 questions for your target audience:
- What information does your audience need to make their lives and/or jobs better?
- What content will entertain and delight them?
7 Steps to build your blog to drive measurable business results
Here are the 7 steps to build your blog to yield measurable business results based on the secrets from 7 blogging superstars.
In case you’re wondering about the 7 blogging superstars, they’re: Syed Balkhi, Brian Clark, Michael Hyatt, Darren Rowse, Leslie Samuel and Stan Smith, who presented at Social Media Marketing World 2015—and me (Hey, I couldn’t resist!)
1. Stand for something meaningful to you.
Face it, if you’re not passionate about your blog’s focus, you won’t want to keep showing up at your computer. Take it from me. Blogging is VERY hard work. The experts just make it look easy.
- Be the mentor. Educate your audience. Regardless of your blog’s topic, view yourself as your readers’ favorite teacher. (Fortunately, I learned this from my NYU graduate marketing students!)
2. Walk in your readers’ shoes.
For your blog to truly help your readers, you have to know them as if they were your best friends and write to them as if you were speaking to them directly.
- Start with a data driven marketing persona. Enhance this information with an emotional understanding of your readers.
- Tap into their dreams, fears, passions, desires. Where possible, survey them or use your initial email confirmation to find out what their pain and pleasure points are.
- Provide blog information to support the post-purchase process. Think product use, cross-sell or upsell and raving fans.
At SMMW15, Darren Rowse asked “How will your audience be changed as a result of reading your blog?” Use this question to generate article ideas. For example, Rowse wanted to help his Digital Photography School audience to improve their photographs by moving away from the automatic camera settings.
3. Focus your blog content.
“When it comes to blogging, consistency is more important than frequency” according to Michael Hyatt, former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, the largest independent US book publisher.
- View your blog holistically. Manage your blog categories like a book’s Table of Contents (or chapters) and use tags like its index. WP Beginner’s Syed Balkhi consolidates his blog categories every 6 months. He recommends having 5 to 7 categories total. More than that is a sign that your content isn’t focused.
- Build cornerstone content. Tap into your audience’s passion. This core information answers your audience’s key questions including 201 level information.
- Make the case for your offering. Answer questions, provide case studies and compare your products. If you want to see an example, check Marcus Sheridan’s River Pools and Spas. (Here’s the case study.)
- Develop a series. Get readers interested in on-going chunks of information. Include a cliffhanger to get readers to show up for more. Publish the content on a predetermined schedule.
- Tell stories. In Made To Stick, Chip and Dan Heath point out that stories make your information memorable. Think in terms of your business’s once upon a time. Also employee and customer stories are useful.
4. Reuse content.
Look forward when you create content. Don’t get caught in the once and done trap. Create content beyond a single-use blog post. (BTW—Here are 5 content reuse tips and 56 content reuse ideas to fill your calendar.)
- Augment each post with related content. Add checklists, audio or video, infographics, social media updates and slideshares.
- Create all related content at the same time. Take advantage of your inspiration. You save resources by creating similar but not duplicate content at the same time.
5. Get readers to act
You can’t expect readers to arrive at your blog and sign up immediately. They like to be romanced.
- Develop the customer journey as it relates to your ultimate business objectives. Use this process to help create appropriate content for your target audience.
- Capture visitors’ email address. Email addresses are important! They’re a critical way to connect with your prospects. “Email has a 40X greater conversion rate than social media.” Copyblogger’s Brian Clark
- Get readers to join your email list when they’re excited about your business. Namely during the journey.
- Include resources in the middle of your content. This encourages readers to register.
- Develop a nurture email series. Pushing Social’s Stan Smith recommended this. Go beyond your email company’ basic registration email. Give new registrants a series of emails to get them to look at your offering. This works. I sold more to new customers who were” hot to buy.”
- Use plug-ins to improve email registrations. Personally, I use OptinMonster and have gotten spectacular results with this tool.
6. Distribute your blog content.
“Social media marketing is distribution for content.” Copyblogger’s Brian Clark.
I love Clark’s statement. It reveals the symbiotic relationship between social media and content marketing.
When you first publish your blog posts, distribute your content across a variety of platforms to maximize reach.
If you stop promoting your content, you stop getting visitors. When I stopped a promotion at The Economist, my boss said my marketing didn’t work because performance fell off. I responded that we needed a new promotion.
WPBeginner’s Syed Balkhi recommended the following tools to enhance your reach.
- Go beyond basic sharing buttons. Test ClickToTweet. It allows readers to just click on a datapoint or quote that you’ve set up.
- Hand pick your featured articles. Most plug-ins will select your top articles but these already get most of your traffic. Instead select your older content that you feel needs more love.
- Batch your social media shares. Don’t just focus on your current post. Balkhi recommends creating a spreadsheet and retweeting 4X per day.
- Optimize for search. At a minimum, do the basics using a tool like WordPress SEO from Yoast. (Here’s what 15 SEO experts recommend for blogging optimization.)
- Speed up your blog. No one is going to wait for a slow connection.
7. Measure results against your goals
You need to measure your blog results back to your initial goals. At a minimum, use Google Analytics. (Check out Andy Crestodina’s post on Google Analytics setup.)
Dig deeper into Google Analytics. Stan Smith recommends tracking your CTA pages. Based on your performance, you can optimize them to improve conversions. This is where the sales action is.
To make this real, Become A Blogger’s Leslie Samuel gave the easiest-to-follow advice on this topic I’ve seen at Social Media Marketing World 2015. Ask yourself the following 3 questions:
- How much do you currently make on your blog by product or service?
- How much do you want to make on your blog by product or service?
- What content do I need to create to get from where I am now to where I want to be? (I suggest using 3 month or quarterly increments.)
This forms a simple matrix. At its heart, it’s budgeting 101. But the genius is in the simplicity.
I’ve taught a lot of marketers how to do marketing finance. Don’t assume that each product will or should grow evenly by X%. Examine which products or services bring you the most profit per effort. This helps you determine the content your blog needs to achieve your business goals.
Building an effective business blog takes hard work. It requires more than just jumping on the latest trend or fooling your readers with empty clickbait.
It’s not a matter of being the world’s top blogger. It’s a matter of reaching your core readers who want what you have to offer that’s special to them.
What other blogging tips to help improve your business would you add to this list and why?
Content is highly important, but widely ineffective. What does that mean for the modern marketer?
Experience matters more than ever before, and what enables experience is content–the content your buyer engages with can make or break a sale. Are you prepared to give them what they want?
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