Search engine marketers frequently recommend blogging as a tactic for achieving search engine optimization (SEO) goals. B2B marketers have consistently recommended blogging as a communication vehicle and brand awareness tool for the company, but developing a strategy that accomplishes both of these goals isn't always easy.
The Argument for B2B Blogging
Some may argue blogging is a "dying initiative." A study conducted in 2010 would position blogging as such, and even a "blog post" written in The New York Times highlighted the point. Before jumping on that bandwagon, consider two points.
- While writers were quick to identify how millennials (ages 18 to 33) are moving away from blogs, most older generations were gravitating to them. As a result, from 2008 to 2010, blogging actually rose 3 percent as an Internet activity among all adults.
- Consider what is taking the place of the blog: social sites like Facebook and Twitter. I wouldn't advocate ignoring platforms at the expense of a blog. Remember this: with a company blog strategy, the organization owns (and controls) the content and discussion (assuming the organization isn't using a hosted solution like Blogger or a WordPress hosted blog).
Proper organization is important to an effective B2B blogging strategy. Here are five organizational methods that help B2B companies achieve success with their blogging strategies.
1. Define Objectives
This is the most critical step. Defining objectives helps the organization create a focused content strategy, including topics that will be developed, tone, and helping with the identification of the appropriate writing personnel.
Objectives differ. Examples include:
- Support for their SEO strategy.
- Industry thought leadership.
- Support customer service and/or sales initiatives in the field.
These objectives have potentially different audiences that will need to be considered. With multiple stakeholders potentially in the mix, the layout and agreement on objectives is imperative.
2. Establish the Contributing Team
It's important to find the right team members to write. For B2B blogs, we tend to find a multiple author strategy works best, since there are multiple product lines, target audiences, etc. With multiple authors, the demand for new content and content ideas can be scaled across the team, as well.
Potential authors include:
- Executive leadership and/or sales management.
- Knowledgeable members of the engineering or IT teams.
- Customer support managers and personnel.
- Experienced industry professional (and guest writers).
In addition to the writing team, at least one person should have the responsibility for organizing blogging initiatives, including maintenance, scheduling, and comment moderation. This individual can funnel comments to appropriate writers and help advocate for the blog internally and to externally.
3. Establish a Writing Schedule & Idea Funnel
Put together a schedule for blog writing responsibilities. When working with multiple authors, resources like Google Calendar or Google Docs help organize efforts. WordPress bloggers may be interested in leveraging the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin as well.
Keeping the steady stream of writing ideas is challenging. Keyword referral reports can be a fantastic asset for overcoming this obstacle. Even if SEO isn't a priority of a B2B blogging strategy, keyword research may still provide a depth of opportunities.
Recommended reports to evaluate:
- Keyword referral reports from web analytics: start at the bottom of the report and work your way up and filter the report using keywords like "what" or "how."
- Internal search query reports offer similar data once the visitor is on the website looking for information.
- Keyword reports from PPC programs: filter this report by conversion rate to find keyword topics PPC demonstrates will historically generate an action.
- Leveraging Google Trends for keyword "hot topics" related to your industry.
Try to review these types of reports monthly (more so for Google Trends). A monthly review will generate at least a handful of blog writing ideas to consider.
4. Getting the Word Out Internally
Beyond coordinating communication and commenting strategy on the blog, make sure to get the word out to employees as well. Traditional company communication seems to work best for this, including:
- E-mail distribution lists.
- Company intranets and message boards.
- Team meetings.
- Simple word of mouth at/around the office.
Keep the entire team in the loop with regular updates and highlights. Encourage social sharing (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and ask for feedback and suggestions.
5. Measure Small Successes First
While in the end every strategy must pull its own weight in a B2B Internet marketing campaign, it's easy to expect too much from a company blog too soon. Set smaller, more easily attainable goals first.
Some examples of initial goals to consider:
- Comments and/or trackbacks (even getting a comment may be a win at first).
- Number of social shares (tweets, Facebook likes, etc.).
- In circumstances where writing pressure is more challenging, even adhering to the schedule for a month or two could be considered a win worth acknowledging.
By focusing on small successes it can help the organization's blogging team avoid burnout and frustration. Gradually increase goal expectations over time and as blog momentum is gained.
While this may seem like a lot of work at first, if contributors are truly interested, and a process is developed, executing a blog strategy becomes much simpler over time (it just never seems that way at the start!).
Two final points:
- If your team is chomping at the bit to get started, try not to let excessive planning impact opportunity for contribution. Instead, encourage proactive team members to help with the organizational setup.
- While this article focuses on how preparation and organization bring success to a B2B blogging strategy, the most important ingredient is in the actual writing and content. Keyword reports, Google Alerts, and third party monitoring are the start to the process.
Next time: how B2B organizations can develop blog writing strategies that span multiple audiences and satisfy different Internet marketing objectives.