How effective content planning can give your blog a boost
Building and growing a blog can be a highly effective marketing tool for your company to use, if done correctly. The best ones become an extension of your sales team, helping you to engage with potential customers and reconnect with existing ones.
Setting up a blog is easy. The tricky part comes later when trying to work out how to grow its reach and impact and make it work for your business. Or, after you’ve populated it with some initial content, coming up with new ideas regularly which help it grow without content becoming staid, stale or out of date.
What should you be writing about? How often? And, most importantly, why are you doing it in the first place? Here are a few things to consider to help you answer those questions.
Do your research
The only thing worse than no blog is an irrelevant one. It’s a waste of your time and money. So whatever stage of the blogging process you’re at right now, stop and make sure the content you’re planning to write is relevant to the customers you’re trying to engage with. Combining detailed thought leadership advice or industry comment, quick customer advice and ‘lighter’ company news is a good balanced approach:
News and events
Don’t make the challenge of coming up with good blog content harder than it needs to be – look outside your business at your industry, your competitors, the wider economy and the national or international news agenda.
No one knows your customers better than you, so think about who they are and what news matter to them. Once you’ve come up with a few ideas, research key dates and events coming up that your customers will care about.
Try to think at least six months ahead for your content, because creating good blog content takes time. Google Trends is a good tool to help you get started – it lets you see peaks in search traffic for different keywords throughout the year.
Once you know what you want to be talking about, plan when you’re going to do it. You might have a team of authors contributing to your blog – an editorial calendar will help them to plan their workload and avoid duplicate content themes or blogs which are off topic.
For events that you know about far in advance, it’s too late to start writing about them the day after; better to be joining in the conversation with your customers beforehand and positioning your business as a source of latest industry news. Give yourself or your editorial team enough time to prepare good, relevant content ahead of time.
Don’t let your editorial calendar rule you rigidly though. Try to allow some flexibility in there for unexpected news and events which may warrant a more spontaneous reaction.
This roundup of free content calendar templates from eConsultancy is a good place to find out more, but often a few hours of creative research and a shared Google Sheets or Excel file will suffice.
Steer clear of the bandwagon
Now I like a Harlem Shake video as much as anyone, but when companies try to piggy-back on the latest viral trends (while shoehorning in a sales pitch) the results it can be painful. Yes, it’s important that your blog is relevant, but before you fill your ice bucket, first ask yourself whether picking up extra traffic by talking about the latest Internet sensation through your company blog will actually benefit your business with new leads, or would that content sit better on your personal social media pages instead.
Chances are, your business works in one industry selling one or a few similar products. This doesn’t mean your blog should be the same every time though – infact if you’re trying to grow a blog it definitely shouldn’t. Mix up what you write about; keep your company news, expert features, industry comment or news-related articles interspersed so your blog content stays fresh and varied.
‘Ghost town’ blogs are almost as bad as irrelevant ones. If your potential customers see that your blog hasn’t been updated since June 2014, that will have a negative impact on the way they think about your business. So once you’ve made a plan and scheduled in new content, make a real effort to stick to that plan as much as possible.
Evaluate your performance
Whatever you do, don’t skip this step! Once you’ve started putting your new editorial calendar into action, review the success of your content through Google Analytics at least once a month. See which new blog posts performed best in terms of new traffic to your site. If your firm’s active on social media, review this too, to build up a clear picture of which content performs best.
Growing an effective blog isn’t so difficult; it just takes a considered approach upfront, a measured approach afterwards, and regular commitment from your editorial team throughout. Do this, and your blog can become a powerful tool to help your businesses online performance.