There can be many reasons why getting a company blog off the ground can be a bit of a chore for businesses: The investment of time and resources, the lack of skilled copywriters, the belief that their products and services are just not interesting enough to sustain a blog. While it does take planning and effort, getting the basics of B2B blogging right can be the difference in the lead generating power of a company website.
The swing toward inbound marketing rides on the power of quality content to be a cost-effective producer of sales leads. The way we consume information has changed. Self-service is not confined to the B2C arena and business decision makers are taking it upon themselves to thoroughly research products and services before ever reaching out to a vendor. While this means sales teams are now involved further down the funnel, for marketing and communications teams this is an opportunity to step in.
Why should B2B companies blog?
Research into the effectiveness of content marketing suggests it can cost up to 41% less than paid search.
A regularly updated blog should be at the heart of a content campaign. It can cover a great number of the business and technology pain points decision makers are facing, as well as feed in to all aspects of the earned, owned and shared marketing model.
A campaign focused on owned media – company owned content, shared media – content distributed on social media channels, and earned media – journalist or magazine endorsed content, can all have a big impact on a company’s visibility. It achieves this through better SEO and media coverage and enhances the company’s credibility by establishing it as a genuine thought leader and industry player.
If done well, a B2B blog is a fantastic lead generation tool where you can address the challenges and pain points of your prospects and provide a call to action to help convert those readers and blog subscribers into customers. An added benefit of owned media and blogs is that they stay live on your website indefinitely. If your content is on point and relevant to readers, it can produce web traffic and leads long after it is published.
B2B blog writing – best practices
Yes, SEO is very important (we will get to that shortly) but readability and value to the reader should always be front of mind when drafting copy. You can get all the web traffic your site can handle, but without compelling content which grabs attention and communicates your expertise, they will not convert.
You need the right content topics, which should be driven by a good understanding of your target audience, but when drafting, good copy starts with structure. People consume a lot of digital content and will only spend a limited amount of time reading it – an average of 37 seconds according to this study – so you need to grab the reader’s attention right away.
A catchy headline is important here as you need to pique their curiosity or clearly identify a benefit to the reader early on. A lot of us also just scan content online, so cross heads are a good way to guide the reader down the page, outline the key themes in the piece and give you another chance to get the reader’s attention. A top down approach to writing will help clearly communicate the core of your message, so put your main point first, followed by supporting information – just think how most newspapers construct their stories.
One thing you will not find in a proper newspaper are the buzzwords which are so prevalent in the marketing world. Again, we will take our lead from them and keep the buzz and hyperbole to a bare minimum or cut them out entirely. A blog isn’t a product page – it’s a chance to stretch those narrative skills.
But never miss the opportunity to include a call to action. You are writing a blog for a purpose, so keep the language active and direct and clearly provide the call to action to help those prospects along the sales journey.
The blog building basics
There are a lot of SEO tips and tricks to help your blog rank better and drive click-through rates (CTR), and there are lots of good resources already out there, but here we will keep things simple and cover a few fundamentals to help people find their way to your webpage.
Title tags are part of the HTML of a page which will be displayed on search engine results page (SERPs). Because they are such a visible part of the search – it is essentially the headline which appears on the search engine – it’s important to get it right. It needs to be both a good description of the content and something that has the ‘click factor’ to draw in the traffic. Keep it compelling and focused around your keywords, but ideally it needs to be aligned to the headline of the article, so your visitors don’t feel duped when they click through.
The meta description, the short description under a search result, is also important. This is the opportunity to show why someone should click on your link, and quickly and concisely demonstrate the value of the content and why it’s relevant to their search query. While the description won’t directly impact page ranking, getting it right will have an effect on the CTR to your page. Keep it short, think ‘tweet-length’, but make it as engaging as possible and invite the reader to find out more.
Links are also important. We are not talking backlinks, although that’s an important part of your media outreach and placement program. This is about ensuring search engines can properly navigate your site and recognise content which is topically related. It is also important for visitors to be able to navigate around your site effectively and access the information they want and the information you want them to see.
B2B blogging is just a part of the full picture
One of the most important aspects of B2B blogging which many people fail to mention is to persevere. Not all blog posts are going to result in a massive boost in traffic—the truth is many don’t. But some will, and because B2B content is very targeted, the likelihood is that the leads which come from it will be targeted too.
As I mentioned at the start, blog content has the power to feed across earned and shared media as well as owned, so can be a real powerhouse at the centre of a content marketing plan. We cover this in more depth in our latest eBook, which I would encourage you to check out.
Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.