What are the keys to creating a great B2B blog? For the SMB or entrepreneur who’s investing their own time and effort in crafting a blog…thanks! There aren’t enough of you out there, making sincere connections with your audience.
To help your blog achieve all it can possibly can, here are some simple yet not-so-obvious rules that make all the difference. You’re out to generate qualified leads, not just clicks and impressions, and that means your qualitative perception and interest level among readers is all-important in the B2B space. You nurture those by , obviously, providing the kind of content that really resonates with your target audience.
How to get to that content? Here are solid best practices:
- Fill a blog with content – but not with branded content: You’ve already got a branded content nexus – it’s called your website, and that’s a difference locus from your blog. Readers don’t want to read about your company or products on a blog – they want industry insight, information they can use, customer service concerns, and other topics that will serve to drive traffic based on relevant keywords and, ergo, higher search rankings that expand beyond the rankings your branded site may deliver.
- Never, ever sell: That’s what your website is for…and there’s a clean division in the minds of Web users, even in the B2B world, between the respective purposes of a blog and a branded Website. Yet many B2B bloggers see blogging as an excuse to toot their own horn and tout themselves relentlessly, and who’s going to stay interested for very long in their unceasing self-involvement?
- Show unselfish self-recognition: If, though, you’re chosen as a conference keynoter, receive an award, worked with a customer to hit a new high water mark, there’s no problem in sparingly shining a light on yourself, but remember to use each of these as an opportunity to share insights and somehow help or praise your audience, not your own ego. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without the support and collaboration of our wonderful customers. And so on.
- Point toward your site: Your blog, if it’s doing its job properly, is developing a new stream of qualified traffic that needs to be integrated with the site where you’re selling and presenting product and service particulars. But (again), you should do it without embedding sell copy or links into your blog content, or similar heavy-handed approaches. Making your blog a subpage or subdomain of your primary site, and incorporating easy and obvious navigation to your brand-centric pages, is a simple way to make them coexist productively.
- Be a publisher, not just a blogger: You’re about relevant content, news and analysis, insight and explanation, and advertising and outreach that serve to drive awareness of your blog the same as if you were merchandising a trade magazine…or a trade website, for that matter. That POV should also inform your content (see above) – are you generating B2B blog content that’s reallyrelevant and interesting to your readers? Will it keep them returning for more, or even syndicating your content elsewhere?
- Quality of voice: It’s surprising how many blogs are atrociously anti-grammatical, badly written, passive and stodgy and, when you get down to it, unmemorable and unmotivating reads. (Not to mention the various sins against good SEO you find!) Remember that your blog, even though it’s not about pitchmanship or selling, is absolutely about motivating and engaging your audience. That means good, pithy writing that’s pitch-perfect for your audience; that means solid, professional composition. That doesn’t mean you have to engage a professional – but that you give it the time and craftsmanship it needs to succeed.
- Refresh or regress: Keep posting! If you develop any real reader base, they’re going to look to you to keep the content coming. One of the hardest parts of blogging is, obviously, keeping up your blog. But if you get into the habit, you’ll find it’s no more time-consuming than drafting a good business email or memo. And as time goes by, you’ll find the old argument that “I don’t know what to write about” fades away. Either out of your direct experience or through just a little research, you’ll be amazed what kind of wisdom you can impart — or discover and share. Remember – a blog can be a horizon-expanding experience not just for your readers, but for you and your team, too.
- It’s images, too: It’s not that photos, infographics or other visual aids should be considered an option in your blog – they should be seen as mandatory. We all read and retain better when we see illustrations or images that complement and expand the content, and there’s no exception in this case. And the quality they lend to your blog further its chances of getting syndicated or linked by others.
- Ask your readers: Whether they’re customers, prospects, industry contacts or whoever is simply visiting your site, solicit their input on what their hot-button subjects may be…and then develop content accordingly. Don’t just ask about what kinds of topics, but also find out how they’d like that content delivered – podcast? Video? PDF/white paper?