Peer to Peer: Corporate blogs must put readers first to stay relevant

QUESTION | How do I write an effective corporate blog that generates traffic and stands out? 
Clockwise from top left: Cameron Uganec, Theras Wood, Darian Kovacs, Marc Schenker 

How do I write an effective corporate blog that generates traffic and stands out?

CAMERON UGANEC | Director of marketing, Hootsuite

A great business blog can help you connect with customers in ways that a website on its own can’t. By sharing relevant content on your blog, you can join online conversations organically, rather than interrupting them with advertising. The opportunities to drive traffic to your site by leveraging social media and SEO are far greater when you’ve got content to offer that answers your audience’s questions, solves their problems, or piques their curiosity.

At Hootsuite, we have doubled traffic to our blog every year since 2012 by thinking like a media brand. We’ve hired writers who approach content marketing from an audience-led perspective. Everything they do on our blog is intended to help our community of social media and marketing professionals navigate an ever-changing digital landscape. By focusing on value for our readers, we’ve built an audience that now rivals the reach of many established media brands.

Among the biggest challenges in building an audience for your business blog is establishing the right editorial strategy. The social web is an increasingly noisy place, and when you’re just getting started, it can feel like you’re shouting into a cacophony. Often the best strategy is to start by listening, as you would if you were joining a conversation at a party. Fortunately, search and social media tools now exist that make it much easier to listen to your audience effectively and let them tell you how you can contribute relevant ideas, insights, and advice.

For most businesses, the primary objective of a blog is traffic. But remember that your blog is also an integral part of the voice of your brand. Your real goal is to grow an audience that not only likes and shares your content, but trusts that your blog is an authentic expression of your brand.

THERAS WOOD | Content and communications manager, UrtheCast

Play psychologist.

“An editor is basically a psychologist who is good at grammar.” — Startup investor Dave Pell. By peering inside your reader’s head and figuring out what they want and need, your blog’s readership is bound to grow. Reviewing your audience’s social media posts can reveal what makes them tick, and those insights, together with your blog analytics, can help you develop a clear snapshot of what your readers care about. And addressing what they care about in your content can help to keep them captivated.

Follow some trends

You may be surrounded by the very experts who can make your company a thought leader. By interviewing colleagues, you can harness their expertise and put your blog in the front seat on a trending industry issue — something that can quickly improve your blog’s SEO.

Solve their problems

Everyone has problems. If you can solve just one of those problems, your readers may just love you for it. By asking your customer service, social media and PR teams what questions people are asking, you’ll create an effective content strategy and never run out of topics. Solving your own problems works as well. If you yourself are craving a certain type of content, the chances are that your readers are craving it, too. Quenching that thirst will make your blog shine.

Talk about hits and misses

Wins and losses are equally important. Explaining your wins can galvanize fans within your audience, while a loss can be an opportunity for education and dialogue, which will put customer fears to rest. Knowledge, of course, is power and by empowering your reader, they’re more likely to come back for more.

MARC SCHENKER | Founder, Marc Schenker Copywriter

Corporate blogging allows any business to post about itself and its industry to provide readers with advice on improving their marketing results, sales and profits. This positions the company as an expert.

According to Yahoo Small Business stats, 92% of companies blogging frequently acquired a client from their blog, and 67% of B2B marketers using blogs obtained 67% more leads than those who didn’t.

Here are ways your corporate blog can be successful:

· Do write long-form content, meaning over 1,500 words per post. Various studies and surveys confirm Google rewards longer content by ranking it higher in search engines.

· Do write in a conversational language that’s accessible to many readers.

· Do include high-quality tips and information that haven’t yet been covered by other blogs in your industry. Use case studies from your business to be original.

The Moz blog, which is ranked 360th-most popular in the world, according to analytics company Alexa, is an ideal example of a stellar corporate blog since it follows all these rules.

The best corporate blog can fail if the content’s mediocre, so remember:

· Don’t write blog posts with long paragraphs, inadequate spaces between words, and unreadable content. Instead, chunk content into short paragraphs and leave room between words to enable quick scanning.

· Don’t keep blogging in-house if there are professional copywriters who are experts in your industry who happen to work remotely. When you go in-house, you rely on company principals and employees whose knowledge may not translate to good, easy-to-understand writing.

· Don’t use low-quality images like stock images because they turn off readers and imply that you’re unprofessional.

By following best practices and avoiding bad form, you can take your blog from obscurity to thought-leadership status.

DARIAN KOVACS | Founder, Jelly Marketing

1. Be interesting.

That's a good place to start. There needs to be something exciting going on in your life or your business in order for you to write something exciting.

2. Are you doing anything anyone cares about?

Interesting is half the battle, but you have to be relevant. Knitting sweaters for cats – although very interesting – is only going to appeal a select market (me and my grandma, for example).

3. Do you speak the language of those around you?

Now that you're interesting and relevant, do you know the lingo? A Master's in English Literature is just as detrimental as someone who is completely illiterate if, at the end of the day, your reader does speak your language and does not understand you. (Okay, it's not JUST as detrimental, but it's close).

4. Are you interested in making connections in "real" life?

You've done all this great work, but you start to realize, "I don't really like people. I don't try to connect with them in real life. So why would my writing connect with them?" And this is where my four simple steps to success becomes a little more difficult. I can't make you care.

There are also some blogging mechanics, specific to the medium, that you must understand.

A. The Header. You must start with a bang. If your tagline isn't interesting (nay, captivating! arresting!) then you have lost 1 of 3 excellent opportunities to capture your audience.

B. The Imagery. It must look good. Get an image or video thumbnail that is eye-catchingly beautiful or at least invokes curiosity in its beholder.

C. The Lead. Don't bury it, the lead that is. Your most important and interesting information comes first in the world of short-attention-span blog reading.

D. The Meat. Once you've got the fish hooked, you can keep them coming back if you've got something good to say. Feed them meat! Real people want quality content.

E. The Links. It's old news but still true news: links matter. Make sure you're taking opportunities to link both to your desired call-to-action (CTA) as well as relevant and helpful sources of information for your reader.

​F. The Measurement. ​Don't let your hard work go to waste! It's crucial to measure all your efforts. I recommend setting up Google goals for tracking traffic conversions.

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