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Most business owners I know have weekly “to-do” lists that trump even the worst spoiled five year old’s Christmas list. No matter how efficient you are, or how good you get at prioritization, there’s always more to be done than time to do it. Sound familiar? So, how are you going to find the time to write a few blog posts each week? Good question. Why don’t you hire Blue Corona (the online marketing company where I work as SEO Campaign & QA Manager) to handle it for you? After all, one good way to shorten your “to do” list is to only do what YOU can do – delegate the rest!
Our president has already written about the benefits of blogging (if you want to use the web to grow your business, you’ve got to start blogging – like yesterday). In this post, I’m going to tell you what you need to know and, in some cases do, before you start blogging. Not only will my advice save you time, it will also help you get a much better return on the time and money you invest in blogging.
Without further ado—before blogging for your business, the four things you need to know are:
1. How to Define Success (and How to Track It)
At Blue Corona, our secret formula is simple: TRACK > TEST > TWEAK > REPEAT. A blog is a marketing investment and, like any marketing investment, it should be accurately measured and tracked. Too many business owners start a blog with no real goal in mind. Others set goals, but they are completely unreasonable. I’ve written more blog posts than you’ve processed payrolls, so let me give you a few tips for how to define blogging success and how to track your results. The goal of most business blogs is… wait for it… new business! Sales should be one goal. Think about how many sales you’ll need to make blogging worth it, but think in terms of years – not weeks or months. If you commit to blogging a few times a week for the next year, how many sales will you need to get a return on the effort? Write that down. There’s your first goal.
Now, unless you have an e-commerce website, your website probably doesn’t generate sales all by itself. The goal of the vast majority of business websites is to get contacts or leads. Using the value of a new customer and your average lead-to-sale conversion rate, think about the number of leads you’d need from your blog in order to make the effort worthwhile. Write that number down. That’s your second goal.
Finally, think about your website as if it were a sales funnel. For websites not doing e-commerce, at the very bottom of the funnel is a qualified lead. Think for a second about what types of actions occur before someone becomes a lead on your website. If you have Google Analytics set up on your website and customized, you might find that the vast majority of visitors that become leads view one of your videos before they submit their inquiry or that they spend a significant amount of time on a particular page of your website. If you notice these types of trends, you should define goals for each of them. Often making it a goal to increase these “upper funnel activities” drives all sorts of decisions that just aren’t as easily conceived when the goal is simply, “get more leads.”
So, good goals and measures of blogging success might look something like this:
- Generate 12 sales over the next 12 months from visitors that entered our site via a blog post
- Generate 36 qualified leads over the next 12 months from visitors that entered our site via a blog post
- Generate 3,600 views of our “how it works” video over the next 12 months via visitors that entered the site via a blog post
- Generate 36,000 website entrances via a blog post from non-branded keywords
With success defined, now you have to think about how you’re going to track it. At a minimum, you’re going to need to install Google Analytics or another comparable website analytics tool. Google Analytics can track everything from website form submissions to web-generated phone calls. It can track video plays and white paper downloads – you just have to customize it a bit (and we can help you with this too). If you sell to businesses, you can use Blue Corona’s Analytics platform to identify which companies are visiting your website. If you have a phone number on your website, you should invest in call tracking too.
2.The Purpose of Your Blog
With goals defined and how you’re going to track success, you’ve got to think about the purpose of your blog. If your blog is too broad, you’ll never break through all the other clutter on the web. If you get too specific, you’ll never generate the impressions and clicks you need to hit your lead and sales goals.
So, what will your blog be about? Will it be informational or more sales-oriented? Do you want to offer some DIY tips or use the blog mainly to highlight recent projects? While the project spotlights are great for remodelers, kitchen designers, landscaping companies, etc., plumbers and HVAC companies shouldn’t necessarily dismiss the idea. If you’re a plumber, write about a recent job you completed—what the symptoms were and how you solved the problem(s). This not only establishes yourself as an authority, it will also connect with people on an emotional level. They’ll remember the time they had those exact same problems. Or maybe they’ll even realize they are experiencing the problem right now and just didn’t know how serious it was. Whatever the case, your blog post will be helpful, and they’ll be more likely to come back to your website and use your services.
3. Who is Your Audience and What Keywords are They Using
Your blog won’t be useful if you don’t know your target audience and have no clue what people are searching for. If you’re a trademark attorney, your primary audience is probably business owners, whereas if you own a regional plumbing company, you’re writing for people who are looking for a specific service rather than browsing for information (if they are looking for information, it’s urgent, such as figuring out why their hot water heater is leaking or why there is waste water in their front yard!).
Writing great copy takes time, and time is money. If you write an awesome blog post about something that nobody searches for, it’s never going to generate any traffic – let alone leads. So, choosing the right target keywords is a critical pre-blogging activity.
How do you pick the right keywords to target in your blog?
Here is a very basic keyword research process to get you started:
- Define your target audience
- Brainstorm the keywords you think they would Google
- Plug those keywords into a free tool like the Google AdWords tool
- See which keywords actually get searches and use Google’s suggestions to expand your list
- Export the list and upload it to the SEO tool you’re using – see how your site ranks for the initial target list
- Target the keywords that have traffic where your organic ranking is >10 (off the first page)
- Enter each target keyword into the Google search bar, but DON’T hit enter or search
- Use Google’s search suggest feature to find questions related to your target keywords
- Use that question or topic to write your blog post
There are plenty of tools for figuring out what people are searching for (Google Keyword Tool, Google Insights for Search, etc.). If you’re already using Google Analytics, you can get content ideas from that.
4. How You’re Going to Stand Out
Do you know how many bloggers there are in your industry? A lot. You may think you’re the only company who’s written about a certain topic, but there’s probably ten more out there—and that’s being modest. So try to stand out in the crowd, and this doesn’t necessarily mean taking drastic measures. If you’re a remodeling company, for instance, include beautiful pictures (people love looking at pictures) in your posts. You can also use incentives. Include a coupon at the bottom of a blog post offering a discount next time someone uses your service and brings in the coupon (people love discounts more than pretty pictures).
Blogging is a Long-Term Investment
Don’t wait until you’re dying for leads to start blogging. Blogging is a component of SEO and content marketing and it’s a long-term marketing strategy. If you think you’re going to create a blog, customize Google Analytics, identify a few target keywords, write a blog post or two, and get leads a month later, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening. You can’t start blogging tomorrow and expect to see a huge spike in traffic and leads next week. Building up your brand and establishing yourself as an authority through blogging takes time. The surge in website traffic and leads will eventually come. As they say, good things are worth waiting for!
Speaking of things worth waiting for, Game of Thrones doesn’t come back until April, but I know it will be worth the wait (if you watch the show or have friends who do, you know what I mean). Luckily, there are cool things to do in the meantime—like blog. Or set up social media profiles (or come up with new strategies…by now, everyone should be on social media at a basic level).
Being a business owner is a solitary occupation. You can add blogging to your never-ending priority list or hire someone like my company to take care of it for you—after all, content marketing is one of Blue Corona’s specialties. We have a lot of experience blogging for all sorts of different industries. Learn more about our SEO copywriting services or drop me a line!
About The Author: Alanna is the Quality Assurance Manager in Blue Corona's Maryland office. When she's not triple-checking websites and content for errors and consistency, you can find her at the gym with her twin sister or urban exploring with her husband.
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