I find it interesting that more B2B marketers are using Twitter and Facebook than they are blogs. This could be one of the reasons that the ROI on social media is lagging for many. Obviously you can't just Tweet your own content, but only sharing other people's stuff isn't doing much to drive traffic to your company, is it?
I help many of my clients incorporte social media into their eMarketing initiatives. Some of the hurdles that must be overcome include:
- How to generate ideas for blog posts.
- Loosening up the writing style to become more conversational.
- Finding people to write blog posts.
- Staying focused on buyers, not your company.
- Keeping it going over time.
- And the big one...finding TIME to do it in the first place.
Blogging requires dedication. Even if the tools are inexpensive, it's the time and creativity that's costly. So, in order to justify the value of blogging, I thought it might help to show you that a blog is much more than, well, a blog.
One of the questions I get asked most often is "How do we create all the content we need to continuously fuel our marketing programs?"
One way is by blogging. Start by removing the limiting vision that a blog is just one more thing on your marketing checklist. Think beyond the blog to how that content can be used in a variety of ways to reduce the effort it takes to fuel marketing programs. There are many ways to do this - here are a few to get you started.
5 Ways to get more value from your blog posts:
- Use social media to share your blog posts. Instead of using the title + link standard, pick a pithy phrase to quote from it or ask a question that the blog post answers. Think helpful, rather than promotional (boring). Use hashtags to increase your exposure - which I admittedly forget to do. Leave enough space to encourage easy ReTweets so others can share it with their networks.
The payoff? More traffic to your blog which increases the opportunity for comments, awareness and a boost to credibility. More followers, RSS feed subscribers...you get the idea.
- Use blog posts in your eNewsletters. It's unlikely that your entire database reads your blog. If you create segmented newsletters (which you should), plan ahead and write blog posts that fit the themes or interests of your segments so you're ready to go at the time you publish your newsletter.
The payoff? Interesting, conversational content designed to engage specific audiences. This drives higher engagement and also pulls traffic to your web properties. It also reduces the stress of creating yet more content for newsletter publication.
- Use a blog post as a touch in your nurturing programs. Nurturing touches don't have to be lengthy, big-format content. In fact, a short meaty piece will actually be appreciated by your prospects. If you're going this route, plan for the topic and focus of the post in your nurturing plan and schedule it to be freshly posted to your blog when you need it.
Another option with a blog is that you can create pages (instead of posts) which you don't need to include in the blog's navigation. This makes the production of content very easy and enables you to use the blog for other programs that you may not want to use "public" content for in execution. You may also consider hyperlinking to other "public" blog posts from within that article to extend the prospect's engagement with more related information.
The payoff? Once again, less stress on writing content. But also ease in publishing that means marketers can publish content when they need it, not when the IT queue gets to it. Real-time is an important consideration. And, more traffic.
- Use blog posts to promote big-format, gated content. Got a new white paper coming out? Blog an executive summary with a link to the white paper landing page. Include a graphic of the cover. Just make sure that the blog post adds value whether or not your audience decides to download the bigger piece.
The payoff? Lead generation combined with natural nurturing.
- Syndicate your blog. Once your blog is up and running and you have a nice backlog of posts, submit it to sites that pull content from a variety of blogs that write for a specific audience. There are many of them out there covering a multitude of topics. Those sites need content. Why not yours? Just make sure it's about topics the audience cares about - this means no chest-thumping, self-promotional posts.
The payoff? Deeper reach and wider exposure. The beauty of syndication is that the community sites will usually pull your posts directly from your RSS feed and be posted automatically to the community site. This means you don't have to do anything beyond publishing great posts to get all that exposure and build a bigger audience that's interested in what you have to share.
Let's discuss the concept of natural nurturing (mentioned in #4 above). It's a concept I cover extensively in my book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale.
Here's the shift in mindset - nurturing is not limited to the leads in your database - and it shouldn't be. Sharing consistently valuable information over time that addresses topics and issues of high-priority interest to your audience is nurturing. Whether you control their access and timing, or not. Make your posts human and you'll find people reaching out to you. Invite dialogue and you'll increase the interactive opportunities to build relationships through comments.
A blog gives you the ability to engage with prospects and customers over time, at their convenience. Consider that a nurturing program over a long-term B2B buying process may include one or two touches a month. A blog that's updated several times per week gives people much more opportunity to engage with your company, if they so choose.
You may not know who subscribes to your RSS feed are, but subscribing is an expression of interest on their terms. Take advantage of it to educate and inform them. Business will result.
In a world where buyers are taking advantage of self-educating, you need to be helping them do just that. A blog is a valuable tool when executed well. With planning, blog posts can also provide a steady stream of fuel you can apply to other uses - and that can bring a big sigh of relief.