Most people are aware that blogging is one of the most effective and economical ways for businesses to increase visibility, generate leads, boost customer loyalty, and drive sales. Few, however, understand exactly how to build a successful company blog. It is not as complicated as it seems, but there are some pitfalls and normal beginner mistakes.
Plan Your Sales Funnel
The process used to turn a casual blog reader into a customer is called a funnel. It is a roadmap that explains how blog reader will become engaged with your company and a customer.
Every company’s funnel is different but, in general, they follow these steps:
- A visitor finds the blog through SEO, dvertising, publicity, or social media.
- The visitor takes an action, such as signing up for an email newsletter or liking the company’s Facebook page. This is referred to as visitor activation.
- The activated visitor is repeatedly drawn back to the blog so that they develop brand awareness and trust. This is called visitor retention.
- The visitor makes a purchase because they (1) have developed a positive perception of the company (2) learn that the company’s product solves a problem for them, or (3) received a direct marketing message through the activated channel.
A clear sales funnel makes it easy to identify problems and prioritise tasks. Your priority will always be to find the best way to get the most visitors to the bottom of the funnel and buy your product.
Set (Realistic) Actionable Goals
On any given day a blog manager has to decide if they will spend their time promoting content on social media, writing newsletters, working on SEO, adding a new section to the brainstorming content ideas, the list goes on and on.
Being overwhelmed by options is not only discouraging, but it is also terrible for productivity. Actionable goals help you to maintain focus and gauge your progress.
You should choose goals by looking at your sales funnel and determining the most efficient way to move more visitors to the end of the funnel. If you are only activating a tiny percentage of visitors, you your goal should be increasing activations. Or, if activated visitors are not returning to your blog, you should increase retention.
Choose a goal, work on it until it has been achieved (or you learn it is unachievable), and then go back to the funnel and choose a new goal.
Don’t Obsess Over Traffic
One of the most common mistakes is focussing too much on blog traffic, which distracts you from your main goal: moving customers down the funnel.
A blog gets 1000 visitors per month. An average of 10 of those visitors sign up for the email newsletter, and 20% of newsletter subscribers make a purchase. The average purchase is $200. So, the blog earns $400 per month from new email subscribers.
The blog manager wants to double that. One manager may think 1000 visitors is a very low number and he should improve it (this is common). So, he decides to double traffic by doubling content output. A different blog manager thinks, yes traffic could be better, but it would be easier to double the email subscriber rate, which very low at just 1%. So, she implements a pop-up email opt-in form. She doubles the email subscriber rate to 2%.
In both scenarios the blog manager doubled sales. However, the first manager created an enormous amount of new work (doubling content creation) because he immediately decided to pursue traffic. The second implemented a plan that took just a few hours and achieved the same results because she examined the entire funnel and was not distracted by traffic.
Use Resources and Data
There has been an explosion in online data-based tools for bloggers. Here are a few examples of data-based tools that make running a successful blog easy and efficient.
Type any website into BuzzSumo and it will show you the content from that website that has received the most shares on social media, providing you with proven, successful concepts for blog posts in seconds.
- Swipe File:
A swipe file is a file of time-proven headlines kept by copywriters for writing new ones. Swiped.co is a growing online resource of copy for all industries.
- Content Idea Generators:
Both Portent and Hubspot have content idea generators. Type in a few keywords, and they will generate enticing headlines for blog posts you never thought of.
Marketers are constantly running tests on new strategies and publishing results. Hubspot, SEOMoz, and Buffer constantly publish data-based studies about what works and why.
Blogging can seem overwhelming and intimidating at first. But with a clear sales funnel, a few tools and the ability to interpret your analytics, running a successful blog is actually not all that difficult.