If you’ve yet to start a b2b blog, you’re probably feeling a bit daunted by the prospect. You know why you should have one: it helps to establish you as a thought leader in your industry, it’s great for search engine optimisation (SEO), it drives people to your website and helps to generate and nurture leads, etc. But when it comes to knuckling down and actually doing it, you’re stumped.
We won’t sugarcoat it: blogs are hard work. It’s not an easy task to produce great content regularly, and it’ll be a few months and a lot of legwork before you start to see the pay-off. But, trust me when I say, the pay-off is worth it. So, if you’ve been putting off setting up your b2b blog, don’t put it off any longer.
‘But where do I even start?!’ I hear you exclaim.
Well, as Julie Andrews sings in The Sound of Music: ‘Let’s start at the very beginning / A very good place to start’. Just as singing starts with do-re-mi, a successful b2b blog starts with a strong, solid foundation.
Here are the 5 things you should consider right from the get-go if you want your blog to be a winner.
1. Pick the right platform
It’s important to think carefully about what you want out of your blogging platform before you start, as it can be a real pain to switch platforms down the track.
If you want a blogging platform that is easy to set up and use, then Wordpress.org just about has the market cornered: according to W3 Techs, WordPress is used by 43% of all websites. As an open-source software platform, you have control over every aspect of your website, and it comes with over 45,000 free plugins, which gives you lots of flexibility and advanced options when you’re ready to scale up.
For a long-term marketing strategy, however, I’d recommend a marketing automation platform like HubSpot, which is specifically geared towards moving the buyer through the buyer journey. While it provides all the features you need to manage a blog, it also has functionality beyond blogging, allowing you to create landing pages for white papers or do email marketing, for example. It also gives you access to contact and traffic analytics in a single source, to help steer your efforts in the right direction.
2. Think about your personas
Just like your product isn’t everything to everyone, your blog shouldn’t be either. So before you type a single word, you need to make sure your buyer personas are up to snuff.
A buyer persona is a highly detailed fictional representation of your ‘typical’ buyer that goes well beyond what role they are in. It should include details like their demographics, their pain points, their goals, where they typically look for information – even how they usually commute to work. (For example, are they reading up on information on the train on their way into work? Could that inform when and where you should be posting content?)
Once you have your personas, you can use them to perform content mapping: targeting content precisely to your personas, at specific stages of their buyer journey, bringing them ever closer to conversion. For example, a buyer in the awareness stage is still shopping around for a solution and is not going to want to be beat over the head with product information. Instead, they might appreciate more information about the problem they’re facing. By the consideration stage, however, they’ll be more receptive to hearing about your product and how it might help them.
3. Create an editorial calendar
When it comes to blogs, the name of the game is producing quality content regularly. An editorial calendar will help you do just that.
An editorial calendar should, at the very least, identify the targeted buyer persona, the topic, the author, the due date and the publishing date for every post. It should also include a valuable SEO keyword (i.e. a term your targeted buyer persona is likely to search for when looking for a solution to their problem), which the content should be grafted around. Aim to have your planned posts in the calendar at least two months in advance.
There are several benefits to having an editorial calendar:
It keeps your blog alive.
There’s nothing that kills a blog faster than infrequent posting. Not only does posting quality content regularly help to establish you as a thought leader and keep visitors returning to your site, it also helps to improve your SEO page ranking, as well as increase the amount and range of keywords for which you rank.
It keeps you on track with your marketing strategy.
Laying out your content with an editorial calendar is a great way to make sure it maps onto your marketing strategy, helping you to reach your goals.
It holds people accountable.
Once things are in the calendar, it is much harder to back out or push back deadlines. Your blog also needs company-wide buy-in if it is going to survive, and having an editorial calendar signals to your colleagues that the blog is a serious undertaking, not just a fad.
4. Get help
It’s a huge undertaking to produce quality content regularly – and an almost impossible one if you’re a small start-up. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of posts in your editorial calendar and your colleagues have taken to hiding under their desks when they see you approaching, then don’t be afraid to enlist outside help.
Hiring one or two freelancers or a marketing agency can really help take the pressure off, while ensuring you stay on top of your editorial calendar. However, as tempting as it might be, don’t fall into the trap of hiring cheap writers – it will end up costing you in the long run.
5. Get a stock photo account
While the expression ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is well-meaning, it is also practically impossible. One can’t help but judge a book by its cover.
Similarly, visitors to a blog without any images are unlikely to stick around long enough to realise the content itself is actually valuable. So, while creating great content should be the priority, it is also important to consider the visual aspects of your blog.
The easiest way to inject some life into your posts (without infringing on copyright and getting a nasty letter from a lawyer in the mail) is to get a stock photo account. For a relatively small fee, you can get access to thousands of images to inform and add interest to your post.
Or, better yet, if you have the resources, create your own photo library. Original images will really set your blog apart and cement your brand identity in the minds of your readers.
‘When you know the notes to sing …’
Like Maria says, ‘When you know the notes to sing / You can sing most anything’. Similarly, once you’ve got the foundations of your blog in place, posting quality content regularly and building a dedicated readership will soon be second nature.
So what are you waiting for? Why not start today?
A strong b2b blog is just one facet of an effective inbound marketing strategy. For more tips on how to deliver a consistently brilliant b2b blog as part of your content marketing strategy, get in touch with us today.
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