Blogs are becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix for industrial companies. 26% are currently making use of a company blog and 35% are planning to implement a blog in 2010, according to the GlobalSpec 2010 Marketing Trends Survey.
Blogs can help you establish a thought leadership position, increase brand recognition, improve search engine rankings, foster good relationships with customers and prospects, and create opportunities for leads and sales. But many attempts at blogging start out healthy and end up withering. Whether your company is already blogging or planning to get started, follow these tips to help ensure success.
1. Define your strategy
As with any marketing program, your blogging efforts should be driven by a strategy. What are the goals you hope to achieve by blogging? It could be thought leadership, brand building, or customer relationships. Who is your primary audience? Define who you are writing for and their needs. You need this strategy in place because it will guide your other decisions along the way.
2. Establish a voice and tone
Voice and tone are related not to what is being written, but how it is being written. Blog entries tend to be written in a less formal, more conversational style, offering an opportunity for the writer’s (company’s) personality or attitude to show. Some blogs are written from a position of authority, some are more analytical, and others may be inquisitive in nature. Establish the voice and tone that are right for your blog and communicate this policy to anyone who writes for your blog.
3. Recruit writers
Because you should post new content to your blog frequently, you may want to consider assembling a team of employees to participate. It can be difficult for one person to do all the writing for a blog—although one person probably should serve as an overall editor to ensure consistency of voice and tone, as well as adherence to strategy.
Try recruiting fellow employees to contribute to the blog. Executives, engineers, customer service representatives, sales people and others all have an area of expertise that may be of interest to your audience. Be sure to let others know they don’t have to be expert writers or compose long articles. A blog entry could be, for example, a single paragraph with a comment and link to an interesting article.
4. Develop an editorial calendar
One of the biggest reasons blogs fail is due to the lack of regular content updates. For this reason, you should develop an editorial calendar that can help to keep you on track. It is also valuable if you use a team of contributors, so they understand their commitment as well. It’s also a good idea to keep a library of extra content on hand that you can publish in the event you miss a calendar deadline.
You should post to your blog as frequently as possible, but anything less than once a week and your blog is no longer the topical, current flow of information and interactive dialog with your audience it was intended to be. Instead, it becomes just a static web page and your audience will likely forget about you. So post regularly.
5. Be interesting
Ultimately, this may be the most important tip of all. If you are interesting, you will engage your readers, foster discussion, grow your audience, and meet your goals. What makes a blog interesting? In the business-to-business world, interest equals usefulness. Help your audience perform their jobs better by providing insightful analysis and commentary on industry issues, technical challenges, and other work-related matters. Offer links to white papers, instructional videos, product applications and important articles. Issue invitations to educational Webinars. Also, sprinkle in lighter fare for a change of pace: games, contests, humor.
6. Increase visibility for your blog
A blog is only useful if your audience knows about it. One advantage of frequently updated blogs is that search engines like fresh content. Use keywords in your posts when they fit naturally with what you are writing, add keyword-based links to blog entries, and link to your blog from your company Web site. Also, link to your blog from your e-newsletter, from directories such as GlobalSpec, and even in your e-mail signature. You should get a unique URL for your blog, such as blog.companyname.com or companyname.com/blog.
7. Encourage audience comments
Blogs are meant to be interactive. Encourage your audience to leave comments by taking a stand and writing persuasively about key issues. Ask your audience for their opinions by posing a question—that way you prompt a response. When you get comments and questions, respond to them on the blog. Always respond respectfully—even when you get negative comments. Don’t get into arguments with your readers.
8. Track your results
We began and ended this list with tips that apply to every marketing program, from starting with a strategy to tracking results. Like other online marketing programs, a blog is built for measurement. Look for upward trends in the number of visits to your blog, page views, times spent on the blog, and comments from your readers. Keep writing to your blog and promoting it and you’ll soon see results.