It’s really no longer a question of to blog or not to blog, but rather how and what you do with your organization’s blog. Some choose to use the platform as a news and announcements rundown. Others prefer to let outside viewers in on the day-to-day developments and goings on around the office. Some nail a proper mixture of both.
Any way you present it, your company’s blog should provide an underlying message targeted directly at consumers. Whether it’s the “We’re the fun folks you should do business with because we’re awesome!” or the “We’re very serious people, who do serious things, so come and do serious business with us.” you’re seeking to support a position. However, a number of businesses on the market today are blogging away, but with little measurable return on their investment. So what can we do to further engage audiences, provide them with the right materials, and convert them to repeat visitors (and customers)?
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Here are five simple features your blog should have up and running from the get go.
Perhaps the simplest of all the recommendations, be sure to include a prominent About Us link and page on your blog. If your content marketing guru is doing their job well, you’re bound to have a number of visitors that arrive at your blog, perhaps not even knowing a thing about you or your organization and what exactly it is that you do. It’s a lost opportunity when you leave them out in the cold wondering who you are.
But what should a good About Us page include? It all depends on what your underlying message is. Chances are your marketing and/or PR team has a store of press ready “About Us text” already on tap, so why reinvent the wheel? Take the juiciest bits and pieces of these preformed texts and meld them into a powerful message that gets across:
- Who you are
- What you do
- What you can do for customers
- How to get in contact
Please note the last bullet point, as it is crucial that you provide visitors with a quick and easy way to get in touch with you and/or your organization.
Since you’re putting a great deal of effort into creating fantasic content for your blog, wouldn’t it be nice to have more than the occasional drive-by of readers, but rather a dedicated and engaged community? Let’s be honest, isn’t that the goal of every blog?
The first and foremost subscription feature should be via a prominent RSS button. Today, most relatively savvy Internet users not only know what an RSS icon and feed are, but have a favorite client for managing their favorite feeds. Make it quick and easy for them to continually keep on top of what you’re producing.
The subscribe area or box (preferably located near the top of your blog) is also an excellent opportunity to offer your readers a newsletter opt-in. Again, if they’re hitting the RSS button, they’re obviously interested in what you’ve got to say. If they want to take the relationship a bit further and offer you more opportunities to get your message across, specifically via email, make it as easy as possible for them to do so.
This should go without saying, but your blog should contain at the very least the prerequisite Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ social sharing options. Remember, your job is only half finished when you hit that publish button. The follow through involves spreading the message as far and wide as possible, and nothing accomplishes this goal better than a few well placed (and timed) social sharing options.
Depending on your blogging platform of choice, there are a number of social sharing plugins available, often requiring nothing more than 3 clicks to install, activate, and customize. Be sure to look for plugins that scroll along with your readers (see TNW’s option above), and provide a number of platform sharing options. That’s not to say that you’ll need all of them, but if you’re going to become comfortable with one sharing plugin, it’s a nice peace of mind to know that you’ve got plenty of room to expand in the future.
Cream of the Crop
One of the easiest and most effective ways to provide visitors with your very best, be sure to include a prominent “Top Posts” section somewhere on your blog. Personally, I’m a big fan of vertical navigation and love to see everything organized in columns. As a matter of fact…if you glance to the right side of this very page right now, you’ll notice a “Popular,” “Commented,” and “Latest” widget in TWN’s right column navigation. Visitors may have arrived via a social share to an article about XYZ, but your analytics show that ABC article is off the charts in terms of time on page, engagement, etc. Make it easy for new visitors to find the very best of your blog.
Speaking of the very best, don’t forget about your top commenters. Everyone loves to be recognized when they add value, so don’t hold back. If you’ve got a regular visitor that’s dropping pearls of wisdom on a number of your posts, go ahead and feature this regular visitor and provide some linking back to their site of origin.
Bonus: If you’ve got a particularly eloquent and knowledgeable commenter, if appropriate, reach out to them and see if a guest post is in order.
Visitors to your blog are there for one reason only: content. Granted, content is always relative and holds its place in time, but if you’ve stuck to an overall strategy and underlying message, numbers and figures might be dated, but the information is sound.
As human beings, we search by topic (you do have a search option, don’t you?) and/or category first, and then drill down by date. If you’re simply offering up an endless calendar of posts, you’re offering up an endless calendar of posts, nothing more. Break your archive down by category and make it easy for your visitors to find more information on specific topics you’ve written about. This not only provides a complete digest of your organization’s position on a certain topic, but makes it quick and easy for interested readers to find it.
Free must be one of the most powerful words in just about any language. People love free stuff. Visitors love your content. If visitors=people, then visitors are going to love free stuff, especially when it comes from you/your organization.
A great way to double down, offer your readers a free content piece in exchange for signing up for your newsletter. They benefit from the knowledge of experts, and you gain another interested party that you can further push your message to. Examples of giveaways may include (a):
- Video Tutorial
- Industry Report
- White Paper/E-book
Sure, the success of your organization’s blog ultimately resides in producing valuable and actionable content the resounds with readers and nurturing a growing community. However, by employing the features listed above, you’re well on your way to expanding your audience, fostering deeper engagement, and ultimately driving more conversions for your Sales team.