Gone are the days of Mad Men and traditional marketing and advertising. No more liquor cabinets in the break rooms, no more cigar-fueled celebrations in the office. The age of content marketing has arrived, and more and more small business owners and marketers are finding themselves tasked with writing blog posts that sell.
Blog posts? Blog posts were not in your business school curriculum. But how hard can it be? Writing a blog post that sells is just like writing marketing copy, right?
Sadly, no, or I’d be out of a job. You can skip the grief now and contact us for full-service content marketing services, or read on for a brief guide made for small business owners on writing blog posts that turn semi-interested readers into conversions that boost your bottom line.
Define What It Is You Want to Accomplish with Your Blog Post
Have you ever read a blog post and thought to yourself “So… what’s the point?”
As the writer, if you can’t identify the purpose behind your post, chances are your readers won’t either. Before you even begin to write, you need to identify your end goal.
How do you do this?
1. Identify your target audience
When people search on the internet, they usually have one of the following search intentions:
They want to know something.
They want to do something.
They want to go somewhere.
If you own a home services company, chances are your target audience are the ones who want to do something. They want to fix a leaky pipe or install a new heating system. If you’re a government organization or nonprofit, chances are your target audience wants to know something. They want to know the latest fire codes or what toys have been recently recalled.
Find out the demographic information of your target audience. Are they average Joes or are they business executives? This will dictate the tone and language you use in your post. Will your readers respond better to a conversational tone or a more authoritative commentary?
2. Identify Where on the Buyer’s Journey Your Target Audience Is
If you’ve been to business school, you’re extremely familiar with The Buyer’s Journey. If you aren’t, read it below and memorize it:
Why is the Buyer’s Journey important for a blog post?
Let’s pretend that you are writing a blog post for your HVAC company. You have steady blog readership, but nobody is actually buying anything. It turns out that the majority of your posts have been geared towards the Awareness and early Consideration stages. You’re giving readers useful information, but you’re not giving them the push to actually use your services or products.
3. Write for the buyer’s location on the Buyer’s Journey
Here is an example of sample posts about the same topic—HVAC maintenance—tweaked for each stage of the Buyer’s Journey:
Awareness Stage: Identifying the Need “Dirty HVAC Equipment May Raise Your Energy Bill”
Awareness Stage: Research“How Regular HVAC Maintenance Can Lower Your Energy Bill”
Consideration Stage: Research “Why You Need an HVAC Maintenance Plan”
Consideration Stage: Comparisons “Choosing the Right HVAC Maintenance Plan”
Decision Stage: Selection“24-Month Maintenance Plan or 12-Month? A Quick Guide”
Decision Stage: Purchase“Hitting the Ground Running: Make the Most Out of Your HVAC Maintenance Plan”
Evaluation Stage: “Things to Watch for In-Between HVAC Maintenance Check-ups”
Once you know where on the Buyer’s Journey they are and what action you want your readers to take, then you can choose an amazing topic and craft extremely clear calls to action (CTAs).
Choose Your Blog Topic Carefully
Every idea you have is amazing, spectacular, and innovative.
Reality check: you’re wrong.
Sure, it may be interesting to you, but you need to pick a topic that will generate conversions.
Find out what your target audience wants. What are they reading? What do they want to know? A good way to do this is by using tools like Buzzsumo and Google Trends, or even your very own website. Look at other blog posts on similar websites and see which ones were shared or liked the most.
Listen to the data. At Blue Corona, we rely heavily on Analytics to track what customers are looking for and what we should be targeting. Look through your Analytics of previous blog posts and see what has worked in the past.
Take advantage of seasonality. If it’s January, don’t write about fixing an air conditioner or the best summer cocktails—unless your company is in Miami.
Put a twist on what’s already been done. If you find a blog topic that’s relevant to you but has already been done, change it up a little bit and make it your own.
And don’t be selfish.
An old colleague of mine used to get on clients’ cases when they had a “we-we” problem. Make the blog about your readers, not about yourself. Try to steer clear of using “I” and “we,” and make it more you-centric.
Use Calls to Action to Encourage Readers to DO Something
As much as it would help my relationships, people aren’t mind readers. If you want readers to do something, like leave a comment or check out another page on your site, TELL THEM TO. Calls to action are important because not only do they encourage active readers over passive ones, they also create a dialogue. If you want people to comment, invite them to comment. The more engagement a reader has with a company, the more loyalty they’ll have.
So how do you use CTAs on your blog?
Decide early on what action you want your readers to take. Do you want them to comment? Fill out a contact form? Subscribe to your newsletter?
Put your CTA inside your post, not in a sidebar.
Draw attention to your CTA, like this:
Make it clear what you want your readers to do.
Keep the reader in mind. Don’t hard sell yourself, but give them a reason to do what you want them to. For example, I might say “If you want better blogs and content for your website, contact the specialists at Blue Corona because we know what we’re doing.”
Give them the tools to follow through. Whether it’s a link to your contact page, a tip for remembering to change their air filters in a month, or directions to the bottom of the page to post a comment, help your readers engage.
Think about it. When you see the “10 Things You Should Be Doing” blog post, you can’t help but be curious about what those 10 things are. Or how about “The Thing Everyone Has But You Don’t” blog post? Or the “How I Made A Million Dollars and You Can Too” post? Playing to human emotions is the oldest trick in the marketing book, and for good reason: people respond to their emotions.
If they care, you win. If they engage, you win. If they make it to the end of your post and share it with others, you win. Make it interesting, make it unique, and make use of visual aids. Most people are visual learners, and infographics, pictures, and videos tend to hold a reader’s attention longer than plain text.
For the Best Blog Posts, Hire a Professional
And this isn’t my self-promotion section. I’m serious, you wouldn’t rewire your house yourself, and a bad blog can do as much damage to your business as a short-circuited electrical socket. If you have any doubt at all, ask a buddy or connection on LinkedIn. If even after all the advice and guides you still aren’t seeing results, it may be time to hire an online marketing firm to get the results you want. Like ours.
About The Author: Betsy is a content marketing specialist with Blue Corona. When she’s not managing SEO campaigns or writing badass blog posts she’s practicing Muay Thai, hiking with her dog or teaching kids how not to fall off a horse.
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod
“We are very pleased not only with the end result, but with the entire process of working with Blue Corona. The amount of patience, guidance, and knowledge that they displayed throughout the whole process made them a very easy and enjoyable partner to work with. We are thrilled with our new website, mobile site, and content management system. We would recommend Blue Corona for any website development or redesign project. ”