In a world where companies that write blog articles get 67% more leads than those that don’t, blogging is no longer something that can get pushed off to the side. Need more convincing? One study shows that marketers that prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to achieve a positive ROI. When it comes to a successful content marketing strategy, you can’t expect results to happen by accident or by just throwing words onto a blog.
Critical Steps to Master Blogging
1. Know your audience and area of expertise
In 2019, content marketing will be all about showcasing your knowledge of both your audience and the topic. Let’s briefly unpack that. Readers are constantly looking for information. They are actively searching for solutions to their problems. However, not every person will be your ideal customer. One of the first steps you should take is to develop buyer personas so you understand who you’re communicating to, what their challenges are, and how you can solve their needs.
As far as communicating your knowledge goes, there is a certain level of writing and experience that will need to come across to readers in order to be successful. As a marketer, understand you don’t have to become an expert on your client’s area of expertise. If you’re executing the content, take the time to thoroughly research the topic of interest but also try to involve subject matter experts, perhaps through expert interviews or writing monthly thought leadership pieces. Some content marketers and strategists are lucky enough to have SMEs write their own content, but if all else fails there are always outsourcing resources like ClearVoice that vet writers for industry knowledge and experience.
2. Conduct keyword research
While it may seem convenient to write about anything related to your specific industry, it is vital that you write about topics that will perform well. Again, people are searching for specific terms, so use keyword research tools (e.g., SEMrush or Google’s Keyword Planner) to find out what information your audience is looking for and use that term to develop your title.
Google’s latest algorithm change places a higher value on long-form content. To take advantage of this, consider using a pillar strategy and topic clusters! Topic clusters are industry-specific broad topics that you want to rank for (which goes back to keyword research). To execute this, you want to develop a pillar page which aims to thoroughly cover a broad topic, while cluster, or blog, articles provide more specific information on a topic that is touched on in the pillar page. For example, if you wrote a pillar page about “social media” – a broad topic, a possible cluster article could cover the specifics behind “Instagram best practices.” Lastly, topic clusters are organized and connected through hyperlinks.
Photo Source: HubSpot
3. Develop a great title
You have a list of longtail keywords that are getting searched based off your research, now what? Pick one and use it as part of your title! You’ll want to make it catchy of course, and there’s also an ideal title length you want to target. There’s some consensus that you should shoot for 60 characters, and articles with titles that have around 12 words perform best on Twitter and Facebook.
4. Craft your draft
Now it’s time to write! To organize your thoughts, work off of an outline or at least bullet points that lead the content. Now more than ever, we are inundated with content, so it’s important to break through the noise. Create a catchy intro by hitting your target audience’s pain points or by including an interesting statistic that’s related to your topic. In 2019, we’ll see the value of authenticity and personalization increase so keep that in mind as you develop your content. Also, don’t be afraid of brand storytelling – it’ll be sure to get your readers emotionally invested, thus keeping them more engaged.
Back to the technical part of creating your draft – Remember to naturally sprinkle in your keywords throughout the article, and briefly summarize your information in a conclusion. You may be wondering how long your article should be and the truth is, there’s a lot of disagreement. Ultimately, you want to create content that resonates with your audience, not just for the sake of compiling words.
5. Add essential elements
One of the most important elements you’ll want to add to your blog articles is visuals. Featured images, videos, and even GIFs help break up the monotony of words so your readers stay engaged. Just don’t forget to add alt-texts (which should include your targeted keyword)! To help break up your text, consider also adding bullet points or numbered lists.
You should also include internal and external links. Typically, data appears more trustworthy when you add a source via an external link. When executing the pillar strategy, you’ll want to only have one internal link in your blog article that ties it back to the appropriate pillar page.
While on the topic of SEO, you should always write a meta description that includes your keywords. FYI: Meta descriptions don’t appear on your website – they show up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as a preview of your content so again, you’ll want to hit an ideal length that ranges between 150-160 characters.
Example of meta description on a SERP:
Finally, you’ll want to include a call-to-action (CTA). CTAs can be an offer to premium content, a link to another blog article, or a prompt to request a product demo. They should include actionable and clear language. In 2018, we saw the emergence of sales and marketing alignment. Make time to collaborate with your sales teams to find out what collateral you can use in your blog CTAs to really create content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. Finally, as mentioned above, personalization will be key in the new year. Bring this to your CTA game. A recent study by HubSpot found that personalized CTAs converted 202% better than traditional, non-personalized CTAs.
6. Publish and promote
Once you’ve proofread and optimized your article, it’s time to publish. It’s typically a good idea to take your article live in the morning when people are more likely to read blogs. Your promotion strategy should already include sharing on social media and email marketing (e.g., sending an automatic update to your blog subscribers), but what else can you add to promote your content?
Have chatbots deliver tailored content to your site visitors. After all, conversational marketing is bound to be one of the most exciting developments in 2019! If your original content performs well – repurpose! Team up with your graphic designers to make your content even more engaging and don’t forget that you can always promote your content through paid media and influencer marketing.
And there you have it! Blogging is an art, but with consistent practice, there’s no doubt that you’ll grow more comfortable with your writing. Of course, it’ll require dedication, and for companies, a certain amount of manpower. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the task, you can always leave it up to our experts to help develop an effective content strategy!