With the overwhelming noise of social media, promotional emails, and paid advertising clamoring for consumers’ digital attention, it’s hard to squeeze in a genuine conversation about who your brand is and what it stands for beyond a pithy tweet or savvy slogan. That’s where blogging comes in.
Blogging is one of the earliest forms of storytelling on the internet — and it’s still one of the most vital in elevating a brand’s culture, community, and influence.
Consider this: According to the marketing and sales platform HubSpot, B2B marketers who use blogs receive 67% more leads than those who do not, and companies that blog receive 97% more links directing to their website.
Writing and publishing great content that serves your customers — and potential new customers — gives your brand authority and showcases thought leadership in your industry. This, in turn, helps build credibility and SEO juice, and establishes you as a pro in your industry. Not only that, but blogging has an exponential long-term impact. The longer and more often you blog, the more traffic you’ll generate over time.
Our step-by-step, 10-week action plan — created with the HubSpot team — demystifies the process of creating an effective blog and gets you on track to publishing great content.
The first four weeks, shared below, focus on identifying your target audience, brainstorming content ideas, choosing the right content management system, and designing your blog. To learn about editorial strategy, getting regular readers, optimizing for SEO, and more, download the eBook for the entire roadmap.
Week 1: Identify Your Target Persona
The essential first step to launching a successful blog is to know why and for whom you’re writing content. It may be obvious to you that you’re writing for potential customers, but having the right target persona for your blog and products requires much more data and research.
It’s not enough to want to help your customers by providing content; you also need to know who your potential customers are and what pain-points and challenges they want to solve. To figure this out, start with a buyer persona — a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer. They help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.
When it comes to blogging, having a buyer persona to target content helps you understand what kinds of content you should be writing to attract your target customers.
In order to discover your buyer persona you need information on current customers and prospects. Here are some practical methods to get started:
- Interview customers both in person and over the phone to discover what they like about your product or service, what their pain points are, and what kinds of content they’re looking for.
- Interview your sales team. They know your customers best, and are a great source of information about your buyer persona.
- Look through your contacts database to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content.
Week 2: Start Building a Bank of Evergreen Content Ideas
You know who you’re writing for. Now the question is: How do you build and sustain a blog with content for that target audience? Where’s the best place to start? The answer: by building a list of evergreen content.
Evergreen content is any content that stays relevant no matter what week, month, season, or year it is. It’s timeless, high-value, canonical pieces of content that will remain interesting to your audience no matter when they interact with it.
Unlike timely or newsworthy pieces, which are also valuable content for you to consider on your blog, your evergreen content is where you should start your content brainstorming. It’s also what will help you rank for keywords and build authority with search engines over time.
Now that you’ve done research on your buyer persona, it should be a lot easier to think about what evergreen content you should be writing — both at launch and as time goes on.
Need ideas to kickstart your blog’s evergreen content? Here are a few ways to get you started:
- Look at your buyer persona’s list of pain points.
- Come up with one topic or keyword, then brainstorm a list of different angled pieces around that same topic.
- Do keyword research to find out what kinds of keywords people are searching around your main topics.
- Look at other content that you’ve created and repurpose it into blog posts.
Week 3: Choose the Right CMS for Your Blog
In order to successfully launch and maintain a blog, you’ll need an effective content management system (CMS) — a digital system that enables you to host digital content.
So, what should you look for in a CMS?
- Ease of use. If you don’t have a lot of technical support at your company, choosing a CMS that’s easy to use is crucial. Most content management systems come with templates you can use or support to help you design it, so make sure you choose one that will work for the skills on your team.
- Key metrics you can track. Does the CMS allow you to track metrics like conversion rates, page views, and where your traffic is coming from? Analyzing the success of your blog will be incredibly important post-launch, so make sure your CMS allows you to track the success of your efforts.
- Responsiveness. Sixty percent of all searches on Google come from mobile, which means it’s absolutely essential for your blog to be optimized for for any device that your user opens content on. A CMS that automatically makes your content responsive to device type is a must for marketers starting a blog in 2017.
Week 4: Design Your Blog
Once you’ve chosen a CMS, it’s time to make your blog come to life. You’ll want to not only make your blog look awesome, but also optimize it for lead generation and turning visitors into prospects and, ultimately, customers.
So, how do you design a great blog that will be easy to access and delight visitors?
- Main blog page. The main page should tell your visitors about the blog and include links to the most recent posts. Be sure to include a search feature and/or an archive of your past posts so visitors can access both new and old content.
- Branding. Make sure your blog’s design looks consistent with the rest of your site branding. While it’s important to distinguish your blog’s look from other pages on your site, your visitors should still feel as though they are on a related page.
- Calls to Action (CTAs). A blog is a tool to convert buyers at the top of the funnel, so linking to pieces of content that will nurture your visitors down the funnel is important.
And we’re just getting started. To learn about these steps in more detail and find out where to go in the six weeks that follow, including design, editorial strategy, and more, download the HubSpot eBook.