For those of us who are using business blogging to drive website traffic and generate leads in our professional services businesses, we're not alone. According to ion Interactive, 27 million pieces of content are shared everyday! The battle for organic traffic and leads is hyper-competitive. If you're not thinking about how you can make your blog a unique destination where qualified buyers come to get information about what your business does, your investment in business blogging will be squandered.
So how can you make sure that you're putting your best foot forward with your blog and getting the maximum return on your blogging investment? The first thing you need to understand is that professional services blogging is more than just writing. Here are a few ideas to help you distinguish your blog from all the noise being created and get real business results.
Understand how your audience reads blog posts
The plain truth about how people read blog posts is that they rarely read blog posts from beginning to end. Someone who finds your blog post via a Google search will most likely scan your blog post to see if it contains the specific information for which she was searching. Make it easy for those people to find what they want - format your blog post accordingly.
Break up your blog posts in bite-size chunks to help the reader find what they want. If they can quickly find what they want, there's a good chance they will then invest the time to read the whole blog post. Here are some tips to help you optimize your blog for your audience.
Break up your post into 4 to 5 sections that are clearly labeled with an H1 header. H1 headers are the largest headers in HTML. Not only do they help your audience find the information that they're looking for, they also help search engines like Google index your content and serve it up to the right people.
Use bulleted and numbered lists to organize the information you are communicating. Your audience will quickly identify the visual cue provided by lists and scan them to quickly absorb information.
Use other formatting tools like bolding, italics and tables to draw attention to key points you're making in your blog posts. We like using horizontal lines to break up the post visually into bite-size segments so that our readers can easily find the specific informatiion that's important to them.
Use hyperlinks to give proper attribution to sources you cite in your posts. Hyperlink to your own content to give readers more specific information on a particular point and help Google index your content better.
Understanding how your audience reads blog posts and formatting your posts accordingly is an easy way to make your content stand out from the competition.
Use visual elements in your blog post
Why should you use visual elements in your blog post? The Weiss-McGrath Study found that visually presented information is retained longer than words alone. Here is an interesting finding of the study that illustrates why you should use visual elements in your blog posts.
After 72 hours, study participants retained 10% of information presented orally.
After 72 hours, study participants retained 20% of information presented visually.
After 72 hours, study participants retained 65% of information presented orally and visually!
How can you leverage visual content in your blog post?
Use images and videos that reinforce the message you're communicating in your post.
- Use infographics and videos AS blog posts. Use a short paragraph to introduce your visual content and then let the content do the communicating.
Include lead generation offers in your blog posts
This is the most common mistake I see in professional services blogs. Businesses create good content, but don't have lead generation offers for their audiences to get a deeper dive into the subject in exchange for contact information. Here's a visual representation of the lead generation process.
The best practice for lead generation from your blog is to offer premium content such as an eBook, video or webinar that gives readers a deeper dive into the subject you're covering in exchange for contact and demographic information. When this exchange has been made, you have generated a lead.
An example of a lead generation offer can be seen above in this blog post. For those who want more information on driving results with your business blog, you can click the call-to-action to receive a copy of our 81-page eBook, An Introduction to Business Blogging.
This eBook gives a much deeper dive into the subject of business blogging. To get the book, you have to give us your contact information and answer a few brief demographic questions.
It's very important that the subject matter of your lead generation offer relates to your blog post. The business blogging eBook offer will generate a much higher conversion rate than a promotion for The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Landing Pages.
Promote your blog posts!!
This is the second most common mistake I see in professional services blogging. You can create the most well-written, highly relevant blog post ever written, but if you don't promote it, it won't generate the business results you need. Here are suggestions on how to promote your blog post.
Promote your post on social media. This is not a one and done proposition. Because people's social media timelines move so quickly, we recommend posting your blog on your social media profiles 3 to 5 times over a 6 week period. We've found that this is the best way to promote your blog content, without overdoing it by being overly promotional.
Use Click to Tweet software to let your readers tweet out sound bites from your blog (see above.)
Use social sharing links on your blog posts to make it easy for readers to share your content with their social connectiions.
Include blog subscription calls-to-action in your blog posts and share new posts with your subscribers.
Work with your sales team to find ways to use your blog content in their outbound selling efforts.
If you're not spending as much time promoting your blog posts as you are writing them, you won't get the return on your investment in blogging that you need.
The bottom line is that writing blog posts is just one piece of the business blogging process. You should spend equal amounts of time writing, formatting and promoting your blog posts. If you want to compete successfully with the 27 million pieces of content that are shared every day, having a well-thought out blog publication strategy and process is a must. If you'd like to learn more about how you can generate business results with your blog, you can schedule a free consultation with me.