Blogs are the foundation of a successful inbound marketing strategy. To readers, they're a valuable resource that answers questions & builds trust in a company. To a marketer, blogs help pages get indexed, boosts SERP positions, fosters thought leadership, encourages engagement, & turns visitors into leads.
As a "top of the funnel" tool often serving as the first introduction to your site and message, many folks are unclear as to how they directly impact the bottom line in terms of customer acquisition, or how they can be used to drive business even more effectively.
To help disperse the fog obscuring the crux of your content strategy, we've compiled some advice to help turn more B2B blog readers into clients.
Every business running inbound campaigns should be intimately familiar with their buyer personas, or the different segments of their audience described in both demographic and psychographic terms. Armed with a clear understanding of who your customers are, you can more adroitly create content that appeals to these particular individuals.
Highly targeted posts are crucial because a "jack of all trades" blog might be superficially interesting to a lot of people but can't dig deep enough to drive real value for any of them, whereas a highly specific topic can make a huge impact for subsets of your audience.
Let's say you're a SaaS provider with two (or more) distinct personas -- each with very different concerns and interests. Although paths for both personas lead to your service offering, an employee who is ultimately the end-user might be concerned with functionality and ease of use, while a CEO who will be vetting your offering is bound to be far more interested in how this will impact employee efficiency and demonstrating ROI.
It's far better to acknowledge that not every post will appeal to every reader, as some people simply won't be interested no matter how hard you try to generalize. The real mission of every piece should be to consider a particular buyer persona, and try to make their day with relevant information.
In every considered (ie, non-impulse) purchase, people go through a fairly predictable research cycle to determine the best course of action.
They begin in an "awareness" stage and acknowledge a potential problem, after which they move to a "consideration" phase through which they do research on what solutions exist, and lastly the "decision" stage is highly focused on determining what will best solve their needs.
Creating blog content that's conscious of the buyer's stage in this journey helps ensure the information they find is relevant at that time. Flooding your blog with only one stage while neglecting another creates scenarios where prospects might have no trouble finding your site but are unclear on why they should consider you as a solution.
To really kick things up a notch, combine the stage of the journey with the buyer persona and you'll be true marketing sniper.
A person's interaction with your site should never end having finished reading a blog. If we've worked that hard to get them there we want to keep them there! Every post should include different Calls to Action, or prompts to continue their journey.
Experiment with different combinations of additional reading, encouraging them to share through their social networks, or to leave a comment or question. This latter tends to be our favorite as it opens up a dialog and helps humanize the experience by implying that there's a voice on the other side.
These CTAs apply not only to other blogs but also downloadable content offers that can help with lead acquisition. Think of the blogs as your gentle jabs, and the downloadable offers as your knockout haymakers.
Here's a great example:
4. Implement marketing automation & personalization
To many folks, marketing automation means email newsletters, or triggered actions that happen in the background. This isn't wrong, but it's also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to working within an inbound marketing blog strategy.
Audiences who take the time to read your blog are very likely inquisitive and searching for information. Grouping your posts into categories helps from an organizational perspective as you can bundle posts of a particular topic together.
If you run a corporate retreat location and know someone read a post on ways to keep employee morale high, it'd be a great chance to offer them a CTA for another post in this "awareness" stage. Creating an automation workflow that helps to reinforce their initial interest before ushering them into the next stage of the journey is a great way to ensure that your eventual graphic on "The Six Benefits of Corporate Outings" gets clicked.
This personalization is key, as relevance is always the guiding tenet. Make sure that the information being presented to the reader is something they care about and your interests will be aligned. This can absolutely be accomplished through email drips, but there are tools that can change the content within a page based on a viewer's past browsing history.
Even if you haven't yet captured their information as a lead, using cookies to track folks who come back to your site can help ensure that what you dish up is always fresh and top of mind for them.
Successful blogging strategies are built upon the idea of "nurturing" your prospective clients along. Just as we'd run a risk in only providing information in the awareness stage, nor do we want to drop the hammer too soon by shouting at them through a megaphone to "BUY NOW" the second they land on your site.