Remember the Blogosphere?
I started blogging in the first years of 2000. Remember vintage terms as “the blogosphere”? Well, I was part of the Italian blogosphere, that small Italian elite. Yes, exactly, the “Italian blogosphere”. I started with personal blogs, moving time to time to new blogging platforms to gain publishing and design flexibility and autonomy. I met other bloggers in Milan, which is the town where most of those innovators were based, to exchange ideas and experiences. After a few years, and with a deeper knowledge of blog technology and dynamics, I created an internal blog at the business where I was leading marketing operations for European countries. I always promoted internal blogs as a vehicle of (employee) freedom and as one of the best way to humanise companies and C-level teams. I turned soon to using external blogs as one of the main distribution channel of my marketing content strategies. Today, after more than 15 years, I am still a blogger and I still believe that bogs are positioned at the core of our content marketing strategy.
In term of technology, after a few years using pre-built blogging platforms (Splinder, Blogger) I moved to the code-heavy Movable Type platform. I finally ‘met’ WordPresswhen I switched to my current blog host, a few years ago. About 25% of websites today are powered by WordPress. This is the technology/ platform I suggest even to large enterprises because of its simplicity and social integration. But let’s go back to a formal definition, for a moment.
Blogs and (Content) Marketing
Blogs is where all the marketing starts. Blog posts can capture the attention of search engines, build customer affinity, and feed every other social media channel you’re engaged with. At least once a year various social gurus declare that blogs are dead, usually killed or replaced by other platforms. The blog wasn’t dead then, and it’s not even close to dead now. More than ever, today’s blogs function at the centre of content marketing and social media strategy. They tie online marketing strategy together, lending substance to posts on other social media channels and referring readers to those channels.
Based on my experience 60-80% of blog visitors are “new” visitors. They reach the blogs with non-branded searches, which means they are conducting preliminary research and are at the very early stage of the buyer journey (but this might differ and we should go with a case-by-case approach). If this is the real scenario blogs can be used as a good content hub. Blogs are well integrated with social and are easy to manage and update. Blogs don’t need to sit on top of existing websites, which simplify implementation and small pilots, even if this might influence traffic/SEO strategies.
A few considerations:
- content fuels social interaction, and that starts with blogs. Infusing your social channels with blog content captures attention (for example, when you link to a blog post from your LinkedIn Company page, you drive potential customers to your site);
- relevant, well-written content counts. When conducting preliminary research buyers at early stages of their journey look for original content that offers substantial information. By nature, blogs feature longer-style content, which offers deeper thought leadership. This content is your first step to engaging prospects;
- the old-fashioned press releases don’t impact media as they used to, but the same kind of idea still lives on in your blog. Use blogs to announce new products, services, features, customer stories and other relevant company news. Press releases fuel content and blogs will benefit;
- Always keep SEO in mind. Blogs significantly influence your search rankings. The metrics that search engines use just happen to be the exact same web elements that blog posts represent: fresh content and trending keywords that are relevant.
Blog content should be well balanced
As a major fuel source for social, it’s vital to mix up the content on the blog; after all, variety is the spice of life. Just as anyone would quickly tire of eating from the same food group day after day, your customers and prospects can grow tired of consuming the same type of content again and again. Miller and Burnes recommend treating your blog like you would your diet, incorporating a healthy balance of content based on five food groups. By providing a mix of how-to and influencer posts (whole wheat and grains), leadership articles and guest topics (vegetables), research and analysis (meats), light-hearted viral content (dessert and sweets) and bold statements (condiments), blogs will engage readers and, where applicable, hook potential customers.
The final recipe is a 1500-3000-word blog post on a topic that you want to own (Moz and Quicksprout analysed more than ten thousand blogs and found that in order to rank on page one within the search engines, your article or post should be a minimum of 1,500 words).
Blogs and Influencers
The fact is simple. According to several data sources and analysis it is obvious who has to tell our company’s story: our customers, partners and employees. Which brings back to Influencer marketing and Employee Advocacy practices.
Influencers are topic experts, thought leaders, or brand advocates who possess strong credibility and an extended reach with your target audience.
From providing a new perspective on your usual blog content, to accessing a whole new audience, these are just some of the reasons why you should consider accepting guest posts. In fact, the results from recent B2B blogging studies indicate that the best content marketers source 25% of their blog posts from external contributors. Your audience will appreciate seeing a new perspective in addition to the topics that you usually write about. As great as our content may be, our audience wants different perspectives on the same topics. This will also increase thought leadership on specific blog themes. Another simple and less sophisticated reason: guest posts increase publishing frequency, and this is an important (proven) driver of more traffic.
Summarising: blogs is where all the marketing starts. Because of its nature and technology, flexibility and simplicity, this platform should still be considered as the core of your content marketing strategy.