The first step is coming up with a documented business blogging strategy, not just a general guideline. This is the most challenging part, which is why many content marketing teams procrastinate and instead create topics week by week. This article discusses the importance of strategy and gives you a comprehensive business blogging guide to apply in your B2B content strategy.
Importance of Blogging for B2B Businesses
Blogging for business shouldn’t just be a fun way for self-appointed authors to fill the internet with content. It should be a door to share useful and relevant information to prospective and existing customers and drive business goals in the process. The following are three reasons for a B2B company to have a blog:
1. Sharing Important Information
There’s nothing new under the sun or on the internet, for that matter. As a business, your blog should provide unique and valuable insights to your clients. For example, unusual solutions to problems they face or new concepts in your field of business. Once you have determined what the unique message is, you must provide enough detail to hook the reader, but not so much you bore casual readers.
2. Addressing Customer Queries
A business blog can be useful for receiving and addressing customer queries, both through the comments section and through your online forms. The comments give you a listening space to collect objective and honest feedback from your customers.
3. Driving Website Traffic
With a business blogging strategy, you open avenues to promote different products, services, and pages on your website continuously. This is good for the general health of your website, as well as for creating brand awareness. Having consistent content tells Google and other search engines that you’re growing and staying current. Google rewards this by ranking your website highly for relevant queries.
Should Everyone Blog?
Considering the above benefits, it appears that all businesses should have blogs. However, having a lackluster blog is worse than not having a blog at all – which is why you should only run a blog if you can maintain it diligently.
If you’re not committed to blogging over the longer term, you communicate to your customers that you aren’t interested in your brand or lack follow-through. Your customers won’t be interested in doing business with you.
Only open a business blog if you’re determined to work on it consistently. This is where a documented business blogging guide or schedule helps your business. Creating a strategy helps you to plan for the future, schedule posts, and generate content that fulfills your business goals.
Importance of a B2B Content Strategy
Documentation is essential for two main reasons: first, research shows that writing down goals increases the likelihood of follow-through. A Forbes article explained that this is because writing creates a tangible/external form of the target, which is harder to ignore. Also, writing makes a goal more engrained or clearer in our minds, making it easier to achieve.
Secondly, content marketing is a collaborative affair between the sales and marketing teams and the client. Coming together and creating a single business content strategy rallies everyone behind the same goal. If the team can see what they’re working towards, they can follow through with it.
Documenting your content strategy eliminates the need to continually re-explain the goal or losing direction if the holder of the vision is gone. It becomes the overarching reference point for all stakeholders – clients, external business partners, new hires, freelancers, marketers, etc. – and informs decision-making. Coming together to create business content strategy injects the insights of other professionals who spot gaps or flaws and suggest improvements.
Business Blogging Checklist: Three Phases of B2B Strategy Documentation
When you cut through the moving parts and variables, you discover that coming up with a content strategy demands three universal processes: discovery, consumption, and action. Content must be discovered/found, consumed/read, and finally acted upon to help you achieve your business goals. Details are explained below:
1. The Discovery Phase
At this stage, you want to find out who your target audience is and how they will find your content. Your target audience is the center of this entire discussion: the more specific you can get, the better. Who are they, what do they want, what makes them tick, where are they found, and what kind of content would they prefer?
In the discovery phase, you should know:
The differences in the buying personas or audience segments
The search behavior of the audience and how SEO fits into it
The online channels they use
The people/sites they respect or listen to within their niche or industry
The themes or topic clusters that will dictate the content direction
Understanding the people you’re targeting and their challenges, questions, and communication channels should guide your entire business blogging strategy. This is where documentation comes in handy: you must confront gaps in your knowledge and challenge any assumptions you had.
2. The Consumption Phase
This phase is about determining how, where, and why people will engage with your content. This involving mapping out a list of channels and topics which your target audience is interested in, then working to ensure engagement. It’s not enough to create relevant or strategic content; it must be engaging enough to encourage consumption.
In the consumption phase, you’re dealing with the following strategic concerns:
How to make your content stand apart from the competition
How to ensure content is optimized for access on various platforms, esp. mobile
How to use social media, headlines, and metadata (SEO) to drive click-throughs
The publishing frequency and timing – best times to share content
The tools used to schedule, publish and track content and content-related metrics
The role of guest blogs, influencers, post sponsorship, and organic search
Your response to interaction/engagement by your audience
Your business blogging checklist should include how every channel of interaction works into the other. For example, a blog post on the website can be shared on various social media channels and include a video for those who don't want to read. Using various platforms and content formats ensure you reach people with different tastes in your audience.
3. The Action Phase
The action phase is about working out how your content strategy and schedule will help you to meet your end goals. Remember that a strategy is “a plan of action designed to achieve a goal or objective”. Ultimately, your business blogging strategy should work towards your overall marketing goal.
Ideally, you should start with the marketing goals and work backward. However, this part is mentioned last because you shouldn’t focus on your goals at the expense of your audience’s needs. Your business content strategy should be the bridge between your mission/purpose statement and your audience’s needs.
In the action phase, you should work on the following:
How to convert the reading/viewing audience into customers
How to increase engagement, build relationships and maintain them
What your Key Performance Indicators and benchmarks are
The ultimate qualities of a successful strategy (We have succeeded if…)
The continuous efforts towards optimizing conversions
How the entire discovery and consumption framework leads to your goals
Using this business blogging guide, you should be able to create a steady pool of qualified leads at the top, engage them in the middle, and convert them into action at the bottom. The strategic content funnel should work into your sales funnel, and keep flowing to keep your business growing. Documentation helps to rally all teams’ efforts towards the same goals.
More Tips for Creating a Business Blogging Strategy
While the above checklist gives abstract items, part of your business blogging strategy should include specific details to help your content rank highly. These tips will help you gain better traction with both your audience and search engines:
1. Target Your Keywords - Use Your Customer's Words
Keyword research is still useful, but not for purposes of keyword stuffing. Proper keyword analysis should account for the B2B buyer's journey. Your clients won't type a query into the search engine and sign up for the first solution they find. Therefore, your target keyword list should reflect the various stages they go through before taking action.
2. Use Keywords Properly - Don't Overwhelm
Your keyword list gives you a “cheat sheet” to optimize your content, but it’s no substitute for in-depth, valuable content. Additionally, target one or two keywords with every post so that your content seems natural. This is why you have a business content strategy – you can plan how to tackle various keywords over time.
3. Enable Comments? Ask a Question Instead.
Have you ever opened a post to find it has no comments – a little sad, isn’t it? Most businesses close their comments to prevent spamming, but this also locks out customers with genuine feedback. And nothing is worse than seeing an empty comments section on a blog that had a request for interaction right above.
Instead of enabling comments and leaving them empty, leave a contact form. Ask your readers a question and have them answer it within that form by sending you an email. This increases engagement and prevents the empty look feeling.
A good business blogging strategy balances value to the audience, achievement of business objectives, and high rankings on search engines. Creating your overall strategy is often the hardest part of the job; once you have it, you simply need to write high-quality content.
Be sure to consult with other teams in your marketing department so that you build on each other’s efforts. After all, you’ll need to present a unique but consistent brand image to your audience in all online and offline platforms.