If you’re considering blogging for business, use these 6 simple questions as a template to plan your blogging strategy.
There are 3 main elements in a successful blogging strategy: You, your audience and your competition. These 6 questions cover the YOU part of the strategy. I believe these are the first questions anyone should ask before even thinking about your target audience or competition.
What will I accomplish with my blog?
When your blog is working perfectly, what is it accomplishing? This question needs to be answered before you start thinking about goals for specific blog posts. This is what your blog will accomplish as a whole. You don’t need to be extremely specific, you just need to provide context for the big picture. For example, you might want to accomplish: turning customers into advocates or nurturing leads online.
What is my brand voice?
Your brand voice is the personality that drives your content. Without it, you’ll sound like a robot. A good brand voice builds rapport and creates an emotional attachment with your target audience. Your brand voice can be from a variety of different angles. Here’s a few:
- The CEO: Blog about the business from a higher level from the perspective of the head honcho. This type of blog is good for big corporations that want to humanize their brand and image. Marriott and Forrester’s CEO’s do a great job at this.
- Multiple Employees/Contributors: This type of blog requires a lot of structure and management but can be a huge driving force for valuable traffic to a website. It often involves turning the brand into it’s own media. Check out American Express Open Forum and Kodak to see how their employees and writers are driving the blog.
- Department Blog: This is one of the most common forms of blogs and one that we recommend to most of our clients. The department blog is championed by one department, usually the marketing department, and is written for a company’s target audience. Check out Kivi’s Nonprofit Blog and Tillamook Cheese for good examples of these types of blogs.
Why should anyone care about my content?
What makes you unique? It’s difficult to answer this question if you’re extremely close to your own brand.
You may know your company’s value proposition, but what is your blog’s value proposition? What’s that secret ingredient in every post that entices people to click on it AND more importantly, what makes them want to continue to read your blog? Is it your perspective? Your humor? The incredible quality of your content?
If your at a loss for this, don’t surrender. A good way to start is by rounding a list of 5 top competitor’s blogs and performing a quick analysis. Ask: What sticks out about each of their blogs? What are they doing that is unique and what aren’t they doing that we can fill the need for?
Don’t forget to head offline as well. Pay special attention to what your best customers like about you and your company. Go ahead and ask them if you need to. If those key qualities are attracting your best customers, and you want more customers like that, then intentionally make those qualities a part of your blog. You can commoditize a product and even a service, but you can’t commoditize the people behind it.
How will my target audience find me?
One of the most rewarding benefits of blogging is that every post is a door from Google into your website. If you’ve setup your blog correctly, each of your blog posts will be indexed in Google and found when prospects type in keyword phrases you are targeting.
For example, one of our goals was to rank in Google for “small business digital marketing.” We accomplished that through a popular post about the best Small Business Facebook Pages. It got ranked in Google for the key phrase, and was key in helping our front page in ranking for the same term.
Most people are surprised to find that writing blog posts is actually only a small part of a successful blogging strategy. Many other important components must also be considered such as planning the blog posts, promoting the posts when they’re published, engaging with the audience through comments on the blog and engaging your audience through social media.
Can I commit to blogging?
The question is not, “Do i have the time?”, it’s “Can I make the time?”
If you’re blogging for business, be sure to carve out time in your schedule for these steps in the blogging process. Use this handy checklist!
- Time for writing posts
- Time for editing posts
- Time for coming up with new blog post ideas weekly
- Time for researching your competitors at least monthly
- Time for reading other industry blogs daily
- Time for responding to comments as needed
- Time for promoting your blog posts
- Time for planning out an editorial calendar monthly
How will I measure success?
Now onto the fun part! What needles need to move on your dashboard that show your blog is achieving its goals? It’s easy to get caught up in all the shiny metrics that come with blogging and social media. I suggest keeping it simple when starting off. The litmus test is: If you can’t describe how it directly impacts your goal, then don’t measure it.
The metrics you measure depend on your goals for the blog. If your blog’s goal is to turn customers into advocates, you might measure the number of shares your blog is getting from relevant people on social media channels. If your goal is to turn visitors into prospects, you might measure how many people land on your blog and sign up for an email list or fill out a contact form. And if your blog’s goal is to generate brand awareness online you might measure the organic search terms that people are finding you by in your Google Analytics. Check out this huge resource for additional information on using Google Analytics.
In the next post I’ll be revealing the most important questions about your target audience and industry. These boil down to the one thing that will make or break your blog: Relevance. Stay tuned!
Image by dsevilla