Do a little digging, and you’ll encounter some amazing blogs that never get the press they deserve. The blogosphere isn’t a pure meritocracy, and the most engaging bloggers aren’t always the most widely read. That goes for business-oriented and B2B blogs too, many of which are tremendously useful resources and interesting morning-coffee reads. You’ve got the great content; how do you get it out to a wider audience and build your blog’s reputation in your industry?
Blog with Authority
Where are your areas of expertise? That knowledge has tremendous value to your blog’s readers, and when you and your content creation team blog about it, you encourage visitors to share that knowledge with new readers. Get specific, too; the more details you offer, the more authority your words have. Think about how much more interested you’d be in a piece titled “5 Things You Can Do Today to Close Data Security Loopholes” than you would be in one about the importance of data security. You already know it’s important to protect your clients’ data, but only one of those blog posts gives you specific, actionable tips to accomplish your goal of improving security.
Email marketing is one of the easiest and most cost-effective way to connect with your prospects, but what do you say after you’ve made your introductions? One of the most important ideas in email marketing is triggered email, messages that go out in response to your leads’ activities. Take a look at some actions that can trigger messages and what your content team might want to say.
Introduce Yourself – Welcome Series
Whenever a prospective customer visits your site, asks for information or downloads content from you for the first time, that lead enters your welcome flow. In your first email, give prospects a brief overview of who you are and what you can do for them. If you’re using marketing automation tools or site analytics, you have some great data to use for personalization. Writing slightly different content for people who enter the welcome series of emails through different means goes a long way toward making readers feel valued.
Possible triggers for welcome emails could include visiting your site, subscribing to your newsletter, and joining your forum or blog community. Typically, you’ll set up the first welcome email immediately after getting your prospect’s email address. It’s often a good practice to include a registration link in this initial email to ensure you have the right address.
When most businesses think of content marketing, they’re talking about customer acquisition and lead generation. They’re right to love content for its ability to bring in interested new prospects. With a solid content strategy, companies can create plenty of buzz and draw more traffic. Outstanding copy does more than bring in new customers, though; it’s also a key component of your customer retention plans. Just as you don’t stop having a conversation with your audience once they become regulars, you don’t stop offering worthwhile content to your frequent visitors and best customers.
Retargeting gives you another chance to make an offer to prospects who might otherwise be on their way out the door. Whether they’re former customers who haven’t connected with you in some time or visitors who once expressed an interest that seems to have waned, prospects whose engagement with you has dropped merit another look with a retargeting campaign. Instead of sending them introductory information or reaching them through SEO, your content team reaches out to this segment of your audience with copy designed to welcome them back.
Established newspapers and magazines have long had a hard-nosed and unsentimental perspective on developing controversial stories to boost circulation: “If it bleeds, it leads.” As unlovely as that sentiment may be, it has a kernel of truth to it. Controversy draws traffic. Just ask the writers at sites like Gawker and Buzzfeed; these mastheads and the click-bait titles they give their articles are designed to provoke a response. Whether that response is positive or negative almost doesn’t matter – people will discuss and share something they disparage almost as much as something they love.
For B2B companies, the landscape is different. Gawker, TMZ and Buzzfeed rely on traffic to make money directly through ad revenue while businesses not in the publishing sector see traffic as lead generation. The last thing a well-established company wants is to be controversial if controversy could cost business.
Some of the lessons controversial content teaches are applicable to B2B industries. Snappy titles that ask a question – “Is all publicity good,” for instance – encourage thought and conversation. The format of controversy, of taking a bit of common wisdom and writing a post that takes an opposing view, also works for B2B content. Other aspects of click-bait writing don’t translate as well; it’s unlikely that B2B industries are going to generate the kind of controversy that drives op-ed columns in national newspapers or draws viewers to any story that has the name “Kardashian” in it, for example.
When you read a newspaper or magazine, do you read every article and ad, or do you flip to what interests you? Chances are good you’re a selective browser, not an indiscriminate grazer. That’s true of most people, including your customers, yet content marketing strategies don’t always accommodate your visitors’ desire to see what’s relevant to them instead of a big mass of content they have to sort through to find what they want.
Delivering a self-serve content experience that lets everyone who interacts with you define their own experience encourages longer on-site stays and higher satisfaction. Here’s how you can tailor your content to your audience and give your prospects the power to explore for themselves.
Giving your newsletter subscribers, email recipients and site visitors the authority to control how they communicate with you is key to their enjoyment of your content. Businesses that dictate how their email list members receive their mail have higher opt-out percentages than companies that allow preference choices. As a bonus, preference page selections can also be instrumental to your marketing department’s understanding of your customer base. Preference page use can give your customers more control over their interactions and help you learn more about them for future marketing. With those great reasons to build and use preference pages, it only makes sense to use them.
How many emails do you get a day? If you’re like the average American worker, your answer is in the low triple digits; if you’re a business owner or C-level executive, that number’s probably grown with every step you’ve taken up the career ladder. In that daily avalanche of email, how can anyone spot the few beautiful snowflakes you want your messages to be? If you want your cold emails to get noticed, the first thing you have to do is make them warmer.
People, not Prospects
Everyone who receives an email from you is more than a title or a position. You’re writing to people with names, busy jobs and a lot of other concerns that seem more pressing than another cold email. To get a chance with them – and remember, you only have about three seconds before they decide whether to delete your mail sight unseen or open it – respect their individuality and their time. Use the data your marketing automation and CRM team has compiled to address recipients by name. When they choose to open your introductory email, they’re giving you a gift; repay it by being direct and friendly.
Content is king. You hear it all the time, and every Google update supports this benevolent monarchy. What’s less talked about is how much content you need. Is it enough to have a few pieces of SEO content, a blog and a Twitter feed, or do you need an extensive website and a constant presence in industry journals? Is there an ideal amount of content to attract visitors without overwhelming them? There isn’t a magic formula to tell you how much content you need, but you can get an idea of what you need to keep your readers and the search engines invested in your content.
It’s Probably More Than You Think
Content is a catch-all term. If you’re thinking about how many blog posts you need per week or which images you’ll add to your lone landing page, you’re leaving off a great many key aspects of a complete content marketing strategy. When you distill content to its most essential element, you’ll see that most of it serves a single purpose: answering your visitors’ questions. Everything from FAQ pages to product images to price listings answers a question viewers have for you – sometimes the very question those visitors typed into the Google search bar.
Some questions can be answered with a single paragraph or image, but others need more explanation. It’s easy enough to answer a customer who needs to know your business hours or phone number with a few lines, but what about the one who wants to know how your new and improved product differs from its original version? When you start thinking of your content in terms of the answers it supplies for your prospects’ questions, you get an idea of the scope and depth of a full-on content strategy.
Anyone can publish a blog, and as a quick look at B2B blogs will show, just about anyone will. Poorly maintained blogs that get new posts only once or twice a year, rambling posts about the blog owner’s pet and blogs that are nothing but another ad delivery system are everywhere. Professional blogs are more than just a collection of posts; they follow a cogent strategy that fits with your overall content marketing plan.
Make It a Part of Your Site
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with their blogs is squirreling them away somewhere far from their websites. Creating a blog that isn’t directly linked to your company website is like advertising a New York business on a billboard in Saskatchewan. No matter how amazing that billboard looks, few customers are going to make the drive. Place a prominent link to your blog on your main menu and use a URL that echoes the main site’s in some way. The design of the blog should also be consistent with your site; it’s jarring to visitors when they go from the sedate maroon and navy color scheme of a law firm’s site to a bright yellow blog. A blog that isn’t closely associated with and fully integrated into your site is doing you no favors.
Google’s development team is constantly engaged in the Red Queen’s race, running as quickly as it can to keep pace with the spate of low-rent content that gets published constantly. Occasionally the Google team pulls ahead; when the search engine giant releases a new algorithm change, the SEO world scrambles to see what it needs to do to keep up.
The latest update to Google’s Panda changes that upended the SEO content industry, Panda 4.1 follows in its predecessors’ pawprints, targeting thin or duplicate content for harsh penalties to page rankings. By punishing low-quality content, Google in effect pushes high-quality sites to the top of the search engine results pages. De-indexing spam-filled sites and blogs stuffed with scraped, spun or plagiarized content stops the flow of traffic from Google to these pages, so it’s imperative not to be confused with them to avoid unwarranted penalties.
Everyone knows about the big players on social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google Plus contain billions of accounts and give marketers vast audiences to segment and tap. While their scope and reach are tremendous, though, these media giants can leave some small businesses feeling lost in their immensity. How do you attract Twitter followers when your latest tweet is just one of half a billion – that’s with a B – sent every day? Great content creation, strong SEO and organic traffic build your brand, but while you’re aiming for relevance on the big channels, consider some offbeat social streams to take full advantage of a powerful free medium.