Whether you write a personal wine blog, or hire a bevy of writers to create content for your Fortune 500 B2B business site or mobile app, you want to know you are getting the right message to the right people. Given all the competing “noise” on the Internet today, here is a checklist to help convert more readers to followers, nudging them ever closer to becoming stakeholders in your enterprise or mission.
1. Focus the blog. Having a clear topic or audience in mind before composing keeps writers focused. For example, TDS, creators of the VoIP business solution managedIP Hosted, asked me to write for CEOs of larger companies, while other business writers specialize in small- or mid-sized business operations, or the consumer market. What topics are of most interest to my audience of C-suite managers? What will rank well in searches? What formats should the content take? The answers are different for each target audience, as you can imagine.
2. Write to keyword searches. Readers signal their interests every time they go to your site. Apart from TDS, I write a personal niche blog for bereaved parents – a very niche audience indeed. There, I check weekly to see what search keywords people are using to find the site, and then I write more blogs around those actual keywords, making sure to use them in headlines and excerpts. How are your readers finding your blogs? Have you connected their search behavior with your posting strategy to write to their interests?
3. Remain authentic. Blogs that dare to stand out, or which are most authentic to your interests, garner the most readers. My business audience most respects expertise, and so I may consult with as many as 10 people before writing, to make sure my facts are correct and that the statistics cited are current and appropriate to the topic. But the one constant is that I have to be personally interested in the topic, too, since readers recognize and reciprocate enthusiasm. So I consider challenges that I come across while running my business, new employment developments that give me pause, or best practices that I might adopt.
4. Understand the purpose of a blog. TDS is a great model in that it doesn’t in any way skew my work toward its sales or product message. Instead, the team I work with asked me to write about what you might be interested in learning more about, realizing that their core business is helping you succeed in your business. That’s what their business partnership model is based on, and so blog posts illuminate their understanding of the pressures you deal with day to day to keep people employed and to keep your products relevant to your client or customer base. Follow that good example with your business communications as well: the best blogs are relationship-building blocks, not thinly veiled marketing pitches.
5. Develop a dependable posting schedule. Whether adding content every day of the week or on the same day every week. It can take up to a year to build a loyal base of blog readers, so you’ll want to be patient and realistic about conversions to “follower” status, and be consistent in your posting behavior.
6. Pull, then push, push, push! After creating relevant content to lure readers in, you still have to push it out to a wider target audience. Build inbound links to the content by tweeting it, posting it to social sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook and, if the budget allows, pay for promotion on different professional sites to point traffic to your site.
7. Pay the most attention to conversion rates. Blogs can act as lures; that’s measured by click rates, which tally topic or headline popularity. Keep in mind that a good headline doesn’t create loyalty if there is no “meat” behind it, so click-through rates to a second page more accurately measure content value versus headline hype. Clicks measure your appeal to the masses. However, it’s one thing to thrill fickle consumers who flit from keyword searches to multiple sites on topical events, and quite another hurdle to sustain an ongoing business relationship with a return reader, or your target profile – the decision maker or person who holds purchasing power. Conversion rates (turning readers into “followers”, etc.) signal that you are getting your message before the right people.
8. If possible, measure cost-per-engagement (CPE). Relate this to “cost of sale” for traditional products – measuring CPEs is the newest marketing challenge, and it’s not only expensive, but also hard to do. Still, whenever and wherever you can match revenue and blog line item expense, or ROI on blog performance, you can ferret out your most effective campaigns.
Taking my own advice, I invite you to leave comments, bookmark our site, and become a follower of your favorite bloggers featured on the TDS site! It’s the silent applause that lets us know we’re on the right track, creating content you care about. If there’s a topic you’d like me to write about, given my focus, please email and I’ll do my best to accommodate.