Back when I was first launching our Audience Ops blog I gave a lot of thought to the question you’re probably pondering right now: How to start your company’s blogging strategy from ground zero?
Here’s the thing: The term “blogging” is such a wide open concept. so where do you even begin to form a blogging strategy for your company?
This is not about ranting your personal beliefs (though it’s probably a good idea to inject some personality into your blog). And it’s not the kind of thing you get around to whenever you find the time. If you want to see any kind of return on investment from blogging, then you must have a clear plan of action with well-defined goals.
Don’t waste your company blog
Too often, we see company blogs that would be better off not existing at all. You know the ones.
“The Ghost Town”
They published two or three posts back in 2013, but haven’t released anything since. Yet they still have this unfinished blog sitting there for the world to see.
You’re probably likely to see the “Hello World” default blog post that comes with WordPress. And chances are, you’ll see every post categorized “Uncategorized”. Broken links and images abound. The layout doesn’t fit with the newer marketing site.
Visitors who find this blog are likely to wonder, “Is this company even still in business?”
“The Change Log”
They’re a software company and they’re actually publishing quite often!
However, the blog post titles say things like “Version 3.43 – Feature Update” and “Version 5.7 Misc Bug Fixes”. Not exactly the kinda stuff their audience is likely to bookmark, come back to, or even notice.
Companies who use their blog to catalog changes and updates to their software aren’t adding any value. They’re simply using their blog as a tool to support their product—which can be useful for support existing customers, but not for attracting new ones.
“It’s All About Us!”
Finally, it’s the one we see most often. The company who blogs exclusively about themselves, and no one else.
Corporate press releases. Welcoming new hires. Announcing a new product. Mentioning that they were mentioned somewhere else.
Who cares? Their target customers certainly don’t have any incentive to tune into a blog like this. And their team doesn’t benefit from this content either. Publishing lots of stuff, but not offering anything of interest to anyone.
3 Strategic Steps
When you’re starting your company’s blog and your goal is to build a resource that has purpose, adds value, and ultimately helps more people become customers, then you have to take a strategic approach.
I’m boiling this down to three strategic steps:
- Start with your who
- Define your objective (hint: it starts with e and ends in mail)
- Define your funnel
Let’s dig in…
Step 1: Start With Your Who
The common pitfall that each of our bad blog examples share is they lack an understanding of their who, and so the blogging strategy falls flat.
Who is your blog for? Who do you want to read your content, and why should they be willing to spend any time at all reading it? What’s in it for them?
Your answer, of course, should be your customers. Or more specifically, your target customers (those who are a perfect fit for your product, but haven’t yet become your customer).
In other words, when you want to establish your company’s blog, your very first step has to be understanding your who.
I’m going through this process right now for my company, Audience Ops. I’m asking myself, and my team, to spend time mulling over a series of questions to paint a clear picture of who it is that we’re writing this blog for.
I’m writing those questions and our answers down. Over time, we’re building a deeper understanding who our readers are, and what their questions and needs are. This becomes the driving purpose behind all of the topics we dive into here.
Step 2: Define Your Objective (Email Subscribers)
You’ve got your who (your target customer) and that should be driving all sorts of ideas as you flesh out your calendar of topics to cover.
Next, you need to define your objective. Note: I’m not talking about your goal. I’m assuming your goal, like ours, and like most companies, is to grow your customer base.
Your objective is more specific. It’s the thing that ultimately drives you closer to your goal. Your objective the key performance indicator (KPI) of your blog. This can be one of many different things, but you should focus on only one KPI.
Many people believe that the KPI for a company blog would be traffic, or Google search engine rankings, or social media followers. While these things can be good, and are often welcomed byproducts of building your blog, I personally believe there’s something else that’s far more important.
Your email list.
I believe that building your email list should be your sole objective when building your company blog. Your KPI would the number of new email list subscribers you’ve added each month.
What’s the KPI when starting your company blog? Email subscribers. Here’s why.
Why is your email list more important than, say, traffic, social followers? Simple: Email subscribers represent people who’ve raised their hands and told you “You’re scratching me right where I itch! Send me more.”
Email subscribers become return visitors to your site. They help share and spread your content. And thanks to the relationship you’re building with them over time, they’re far more likely to become your customer than a first-time visitor who just landed on your site from a Google search.
Don’t underestimate the value of being invited into your target customer’s email inbox. Gaining a presence in your customer’s inbox grants you their undivided attention. Unlike their Twitter feed, their Facebook timeline, or a Google search results page, each and every one of your email messages gets seen by your subscriber—at the very least the subject line comes across their view.
Want to know our favorite way to convert readers of your blog into email subscribers? Content Upgrades. These are an extra resource offered with each individual blog post.
Of course, there’s a lot you can do to make sure your emails get opened, read, and clicked. We’ll have much more to share about these topics, so stay tuned!
Step 3: Define Your Funnel
If you were starting a personal blog, you probably wouldn’t care much about building a funnel. You’d simply blog for the sake of speaking your mind on the Internet.
But your company blog serves a different purpose. That purpose is to attract and build an audience of people who are highly likely to become customers. The next step of course, is to build a funnel that converts some portion of your audience into customers.
Your funnel is how your blog adds value for your business.
So your job is to develop this funnel. Don’t worry about getting this right on day one. That won’t happen. It’s something that should be developed methodically, piece by piece, over time. Every piece that falls into place in your funnel should serve to convert more of your audience to customers.
A very basic version of your funnel could look something like this:
New visitor > email subscriber > trial customer > paying customer.
As time goes on, you can develop an email course to designed to educate and convert more email subscribers to trial customers as part of your blogging strategy. Now your funnel will look something like this:
New visitor > email subscriber > email course > trial customer > paying customer.
You might try inviting email subscribers to live webinars, again to both educate and drive sales through a promotion. This funnel might be:
New visitor > email subscriber > webinar registration > live webinar > purchase.
As you incorporate new marketing pieces such as retargeting ads, content upgrades, and targeted landing pages, your funnel can become more complex, and you may develop multiple funnels that work together.
The point here is to build your blog with the purpose of forming a funnel that drives your target audience to your email list and ultimately toward your product.