Last week I offered some advice on why businesses of all kinds (whether you’re a one man band or continent spanning corp) should consider starting a content marketing campaign. People are constantly searching the web for answers, so if you can provide useful information in a way that promotes your expertise then you can increase the chance of turning a prospect into a customer.
So how do you go about it?
Unless your web developers were prudent enough to equip your website with a content management system, you’ll need somewhere to post your articles to. My entire website is built using WordPress, so obviously I’m a big fan. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider using WordPress as well:
Easy to use – you’ll need some basic techie know-how to upload the files onto your server and create a database; however, the instructions are clear enough that you should be up and running within an hour. Once installed you’ve got a dashboard interface you can log into from where you can fiddle with the settings and adjust how your blog works and looks.
Customisable – you’ll want WordPress to reflect your branding and feature your logo; there are thousands of free themes you can easily customise or you can pickup a professional looking design for a reasonable price. My own multiple page website is a customised version of Brian Gardner’s Revolution theme.
Plugins – WordPress has a global community of developers diligently creating programs to expand WordPress’ functionality and make it ever more powerful. Popular plugins are available to optimise your blog for keywords, enable your articles to be easily bookmarked and to create an autoresponder for your favourite posts.
Capture email addresses – visitors can easily subscribe by email or RSS to your blog so you can maintain contact and build confidence in your expertise over time. Remember that less than 5% of visitors are likely to buy your product on the first visit, so don’t let all your extra traffic go to waste.
What to write
A common question asked by businesses is what should they write about? Well, you certainly shouldn’t use your blog as a vanity outlet and just talk about yourself. People search the web for answers and advice to assist their buying decisions; they don’t want to hear about office politics or how much money you made last year.
Instead, you should focus on the customer. Provide valuable content which shows empathy for their problems and subtly presents your product as the solution. What are the common questions people ask customer services or your sales teams? What are the hurdles you need to remove in case they trip up a sale?
Along with articles offering advice, you could include case studies of how you’re helped solve a problem, provide insight on the news and discuss wider topics within your industry.
Provide useful, valuable content which is focused on helping the customer, whilst weaving your sales message between the words.
Spreading the news
Unfortunately, running a blog isn’t a case of just building it and they will come. Whilst a few might absent mindedly stumble onto your posts from Technorati or another blog search engine, you need to throw your content out there in order to reel people back into your website.
Luckily, many publishing organisations are getting clued up to the fact that more people are reading their publications online. My advice? Compile a list of the trade magazines in your industry and then see which ones have websites accepting submissions.
Publishers know they need readers to make repeated visits if they want them clicking on the ads, so they also need a steady stream of fresh content to lure them back with. If they don’t already accept submissions, send them a politely worded email offering free content in exchange for a byline and a backlink.
If you’re a regular Copywriter’s Crucible reader you might be interested in knowing about a few of the places I submit my posts to:
Marcom Professional – create a profile, add your RSS feed address and your posts will be republished automatically
Internet Marketing NewsWatch – you can send them your URL and a brief summary to get a backlink from this popular site
Marketing Service Talk – part of a network of sites where you can register your details and email articles to the editor for publication
Small Business Brief – a business focused social bookmarking website
Business Exchange – Business Week’s social bookmarking site where you can submit marketing focused articles
Junta42 – accepts content marketing focused articles and a new target on my weekly list
The lesson I’ll leave you with is that business blogging/content marketing is a long-term commitment, and you shouldn’t expect a burst in traffic and sales overnight.
However, the nature of marketing is changing and consumers are increasingly demanding useful information in exchange for their time. Providing valuable content can be a differentiater and a key advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Update – You can get a complete rundown on steps for launching a popular blog at firstsiteguide.com, featuring contributions from many highly successful bloggers.