I admit my headline is a play on Dale Carnegie’s bestseller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This timeless classic, one of the first bestselling self-help books published in 1937 and sold over 15 million copies globally is still relevant today.
As a B2B marketer, we want to reach our ideal prospects and communicate with customers to maintain top-of-mind awareness throughout their buying cycle. A B2B blog is the perfect online tool to accomplish that.
If you are still not sure about the benefits of using a business blog, head over to HubSpot and read these articles:
Assuming you are now convinced and have your own B2B blog, here are six basic steps for making it the hub of your online presence to win customers and influence prospects.
1. Define your target readers – Are you trying to build a following among design engineers, plant or operations managers? Or are you trying to position your company or yourself (consultants and coaches) as a thought leader to influence C-level execs and decision makers? The focus of your blog will be determined by how well you can define your readership. It is a balancing act between making your B2B blog too narrow in focus and standing out from the crowded field of bloggers.
2. Create content – It is easy to get bogged down with the design aspects of a company blog. Keep your focus squarely on finding topics that are of interest to your target audience and developing content. After all, blog content is what will influence people to take a desired action. You can always sub out the nuts and bolts of setting up a blog to experts like Tiecas (Ahem, my company).
Some bloggers suggest that you pick topics that revolve around popular search terms/phrases used by your audience. Others recommend writing about things that you are knowledgeable about. I say you need both. Without passion and expertise, you will have a hard time sustaining your business blog over the long haul. On the other hand, you are not likely to develop a following if all you write about are topics that are of little interest to your audience.
3. Stick to a posting schedule – Work out a posting schedule based on your workload and in-house resources. Try to post new material at least twice a week and more often initially. Whatever you decide, stick to it because consistency is very important in setting expectations and loyalty with your target audience.
4. Drive traffic – Don’t expect your prospects to find your blog just because you’ve built it. You have to take steps to direct traffic to your business blog by various means. Research keywords and phrases used by your prospects and write blog posts with headlines that use those words and phrases. The content of your posts should be rich in those terms also. A good rule of thumb is 2-3% keyword density but don’t be afraid to experiment. Probably the most important elements are the headline and the first one or two paragraphs. Use other marketing tactics like article marketing, press releases, forum commenting, social bookmarking and networking to generate high quality traffic to your business blog.
5. Use consistent branding – It is important to use a consistent look and feel for your business blog as your company brand. Even though content is king on the Internet, aesthetics or branding do matter. The color scheme, fonts, graphics and your tag line should all work together to separate you from your competition and be a true reflection of your business.
Don’t fall in love with eye candy, it can be distracting. Navigation and your calls to action play a major role in how your visitors interact with your blog. Pay attention to those details otherwise you will see a high number of people leaving your blog after visiting your home page, also known as bounce rate. You probably will have to work on the design of your blog before posting but I’m a firm believer of “form follows function.”
6. Capture visitor information – Implement a method to capture visitor information from your business blog. Do not expect your visitors to bookmark your blog or take action like contacting you directly on their very first visit. A large percentage of your first-time visitors will do nothing other than read your post. Encourage your visitors to voice their opinions by leaving their comments. This is “social proof” and is how you begin to build a community around your business blog.
Install some kind of a sign-up form to capture basic contact information such as name, company name and email address. That’s all you need for now. Entice them to continue receiving regular communications from you by offering a free white paper or a special report. It has to be a value exchange for people to give up their contact information to you.
Reaching your target market doesn’t have to be difficult. By using the basic steps outlined here, you will begin to see measurable results for your business blog. It does take time to build a loyal readership and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you stick with it.
Are you using a blog as part of your B2B marketing? Share your experience with my readers by leaving a comment below.
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