If you’re not blogging, you’re not branding. Whether you own a small mom-and-pop business or are part of a large Fortune 500 entity, your business’s blog is a great way to establish who you are to your customers (and potential customers). Your blog can not only be a valuable tool in your marketing and branding arsenal, but a vehicle to drive you towards your business goals.
Set Your Business Goals
What do you want to achieve this quarter? Do you want to increase revenue by 50%? Do you plan to launch a new product or service line? Do you want to get more followers on social media – and amass an army of brand ambassadors willing to spread the word about your business? Do you want to build an email list of blog subscribers? These are all worthy goals.
Your business blog can actually contribute to helping you attain these goals. Blog and content marketing goals can fall into one or more of several categories:
Building Thought leadership
This is one of the most common goals of many blogs. Thought leadership is what sets you apart from others in your industry. This is why it’s crucial for your blog to effectively reflect your brand voice. It’s your pulpit among your peers. It’s your opportunity to be viewed as the most forward-thinking business in your industry. If there’s a hot topic in your industry that you haven’t weighed in on yet -- what are you waiting for? Get your thoughts out there and onto your blog to further the discussion!
Associated KPIs to consider: Mentions, backlinks, branded impressions, traffic, conversions
Informing and Educating Potential Customers
Who is your audience? What are their pain points? What information do they need to help them alleviate that pain and make sound business decisions of their own? And how can you help them make those decisions? Educational content can fall under the banner of thought leadership but can offer more targeted, more pointed solutions to problems. Informational content can map back most closely to “bottom of the funnel” conversions -- helping serve as a tipping point in guiding customers through the last stage of their purchase journey.
Associated KPIs to consider: traffic, conversions
Entertaining and Engaging Your Readers
Sometimes, it’s not all about getting that conversion. Sometimes, it’s more about making a connection with your audience and letting them get to know your brand. While bottom-of-the-funnel content is the ultimate goal and bread and butter of a strategy map, entertaining content is often the honeypot that draws folks to your business and whets their appetite. And remember: Always keep your audience in mind. What may be entertaining to you may not necessarily be entertaining to your audience. Your content should be entertaining and relevant to your readers.
Associated KPIs to consider: Mentions, backlinks, traffic, time on page, bounce rate
Determine SMART Goals for Your Blog
Chances are if you’ve toiled in the marketing space, you’ve heard the term “SMART goals” flung about on a semi-regular basis. “SMART goals” is an acronym for goals that are:
Leveraging this popular acronym, you can use SMART goals to propel your business blog forward. Here are a few examples of how to use the formula to your advantage:
- Set specific goals. Be specific about the aim of your blog. Take stock of the types of posts that most strongly resonate with your audience and make a specific plan to brainstorm more topics for your content calendar that will further define the focus of your blog.
- Set measurable goals. While it’s true that the more you write, the better and more proficient a writer you’ll become. However, writing “better” posts can be subjective depending on the views of your audience. By measuring traffic to your blog posts -- or how often your blog posts are shared by others on social media -- you can measure your blog’s impact within your sphere.
- Set achievable goals. Be realistic about the goals you set for your blog. Setting attainable goals -- such as posting 1-2 blog posts per week -- or per month, if you’re just starting out -- may be a realistic cadence and an achievable goal in terms of publishing on a regular basis without compromising the quality of your blog’s output.
- Make sure your goals are relevant. What is the purpose of your blog? Is it to position you as a thought leader in your space? Is it to drive new business leads? Capture emails and increase click-through rates? Or is your blog a more personal way to connect with your audience? Whatever the goal of your blog may be, keep it top-of-mind when creating a content calendar and be sure each post is relevant to the long-range goal for your blog.
- Set goals that are time-bound. Time-bound goals can go hand-in-hand with setting goals that are realistic. By setting a time-bound goal, you can give yourself a deadline to complete X amount of blog posts in a given period, based on what you’ve defined as realistic or attainable. Consider breaking up time-bound goals into smaller blocks of time. Instead of saying you want to write 26 new posts on your blog in the span of a year -- and waiting until Q4 to write those posts and cranking them out in 12 weeks, set a time-bound goal to write one new post every 2 weeks.
Balance Those Content Goals!
When you’re aligning your blog with your business goals, it’s important to have content that maps to each of these types. If you’re too lopsided in your blogging efforts, you run the risk of coming off as too self-promotional, particularly if all you have are informational posts about your product. On the flipside, if you have an overabundance of entertaining posts, you may come across as all style and no substance. You may entertain your audience, but it may not be the added nudge they need to get them to convert. It’s a double-edged sword.
No one wants to read a blog rampant with chest puffing and saying how great your brand is -- even if you do offer a great service. That’s not to say that all educational blog content can’t be entertaining… and vice versa. Good blog content subtly weaves in threads of each category into strategically crafted posts. Each post will likely fall more into one of the three categories of content goals, but it can certainly incorporate elements of all three.
Think about it. If you’re at a party, do you really want to hang out with the guy who brings nothing to the conversation except hyping his accomplishments? Or would you rather chat with the person who is engaging other guests with thought-provoking conversation, citing his experience and accomplishments only as a means to illustrate an informative point and bring it into perspective? Umm… Yeah. Exactly. Hang around with Mr. Braggart at the party and you’ll likely be reaching for your third dirty martini within 10 minutes trying to suffer through his one-sided “conversation.” No thanks, chief!
Your blog is an opportunity to represent your company, its product, and its culture in the best light possible. Put a human face on your business and give yourself -- and your audience -- a chance to relate to you.
Measure Your Content Performance
“Produce quality content.” You hear that phrase all the time, but that’s easier said than done, right? It’s important to find the right writers for your project who can capably speak to your industry, your brand, and (oh, yeah!) your audience.
Even if you have an army of talented writers at your disposal, it’s not enough to just slap together a content calendar and keep churning out blog after blog after blog. You need to see which content is resonating most with users and pushing them through that conversion funnel.
Who among your audience are “repeat readers” of your blog that keep coming back for more? Who will be your brand evangelists? Even if these readers are already customers who have come out on the other end of the funnel, they may be willing to share your content with others and make believers out of them… Continuing the cycle.
By this point, you've aligned your blog with your business goals, but it’s important to monitor their progress. Once you’ve set KPIs to determine whether the goals you’ve set for your blog are being achieved, Google Analytics and social listening tools like BuzzSumo can help you to measure the impact of each of your blog posts. For instance, you may want to see how your informational posts help push visitors through the conversion funnel. You may want to not only see if people are reading what you think are some of your more entertaining pieces of content but check out who’s sharing it and how often -- and prove that you’re writing something share-worthy on your blog.
Analyzing the performance metrics of each of your posts can help you better adjust your blog strategy so you can meet your goals. If you see something isn’t working the way you thought it would, you can tweak and test until you achieve the desired result. Perception is often different from reality and while you may believe you are creating quality content, measuring that content’s performance as mapped to your goals can help you prove it’s doing its job… and your blog is meeting its goals!