Have you over looked one, massive weapon in your marketing armory? The blog. Everyone has one. Blogs are now so commonplace that it is easily over looked, sometimes even treated with contempt, but you cannot ignore the power of the blog. For most companies they are not overlooked, they are ignored as ‘fluff’ or ‘irrelevant’, even justified the fact that ‘no one reads them’. If they’re right – then that’s their own fault. It is what you make it, and if it’s light weight or unexciting and unread, then you need to radically change it. A blog is a marketing gold mine but you have to know how to work it.
To work a blog like a boss you have to make sure you do not ‘under promise, over deliver’. If you don’t give your reader a strong enough case to look further, then they won’t. It’s as simple as that. You need to make sure you, ‘Over promise and over deliver’ to draw people in, educate them and get them rooted to your brand.
Here are a few ideas to make the leap into crafting a readable and engaging blog:
Make sure what you are writing is text that people want to read. Make it relevant, but also make sure that you have something to say so that your reader leaves with some kind of takeaway. Offer information, educate them, give them something useable or instruct them where to go. Make the writing a journey. Take them from being interested, to being educated. If you aren’t offering them anything of value – why would they want to read it?
Make sure you craft a headline that makes big promises – then write to exceed them. In a world of digital data overload your headline may be the only thing that the reader sees to invite them in. If it’s not descriptive and engaging, your prospective customers will not bite. Look at it this way, which would you rather read? How to train your dog, or 10 easy ways to help your dog effectively obey. Yes, the title is longer, but it offers something of value. In the first title you sound like everyone else, and the chances are if they have trouble with their dog, that they have read multiple articles before yours. This sounds like all the other articles they have read on the subject and offers nothing new. With the longer title, every dog owner has had trouble with canine obedience so they can relate to it, but you are also offering an easy way to solve it. It has a much higher chance of attracting a click through.
Some bloggers write a headline first, others after, it really doesn’t matter when it’s written – it just has to be a blockbuster. Use power words to describe the content and tantalize them with a promise or question. You have to peak peoples interest, then write to follow through.
One thing you have to remember is that people have learnt to scroll incredibly fast in this day and age. On mobile devices the scroll rate is at break neck speed, so you need to immediately grab their attention. Most headlines are skim read as they fly by, but add an attractive image to the title and you will certainly catch their eye. Images can convey a massive amount of information in a very short time, so add them to your title and throughout the blog. Your chances of people reading to the end increase with relevant, professional images. Free stock photos can be found by using the search bar in your favorite search engine and you are sure to find many you can use.
There are many programs out there that offer a blogging platform. They often claim they are easy to use, but that is written by people with degrees in computer software and many years of experience. It is not like word where you type and hit a button. If you do that, it’s likely that the post is not formatted properly. It will appear on your blog as one long line of type with no breaks or paragraphs, and the images will be all over the place. Get to know your blogging platform and make the best use of it. No one will stop to read a solid block of text that is badly formatted. The irony of it is, of you use the program properly, it will do it all for you.
Whilst we’re on the subject of length, know your audience! Some readers will only read short paragraphs of one or two sentences. Others like a meaty section of text that delves into the ins and out of the subject. Know which one your demographic likes to read and write with it.
Try and make the best use of bullet points, sub headings and headings. Breaking up the posts in this way gives the brain a help in filing way the information and helps in information retrieval. It will make you more memorable.
If you’re going to take the time to craft an enticing, informative post, then take the time to put it aside for an hour or two after you have proof read it, then read it again. And again. And again. You know what you have written and can overlook, or put in words that aren’t there. By giving yourself a break and going back to proof it, you will weed out more mistakes.
Spend half an hour after it is written spicing up the content with images and relevant links. This added value will impress your readership.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their blogs is to only make a post when they ‘have the time’. Make the time. The more you blog, the more material you have in front of people, the more chances you have of being noticed. Writing every three of four months, even every three or four weeks, will not help you gain leads. It also makes your blog look ‘dead’. Why would people join a blog that only posts when they want its convenient? Set aside regular time to make sure you have time to create something to post. Write a few in hand incase life gets in the way and you’ll always be prepared. All the best blogs post regularly, and people log on to hear what they have to say.
How often you post is up to you. Some say daily, five posts a week or weekly. Consistency means regularly, but at least weekly is a must. Any less than that and you will be forgotten in the sheer volume of information your prospective consumers will amass whilst you are gone.
Do you only eat fish? Only drive on one road? Only wear onesies? How would that go? Get boring real quick? So would your readers. Shake up your content with different articles, styles or subjects. To help you with providing consistent, quality content look at image based articles, customers feedback, spotlights on suppliers, a bio of an employee or guest bloggers to contribute. The more innovative and varied the content is, the more interesting it is and the further you cast the net.
Do not be afraid of asking your readers to do something. A well placed call to action is very effective at bonding your readership, and also garnering much needed leads. It doesn’t have to be anything too heavy, just a simple poll or ‘leave a comment’ type of question to get them involved.
The quality of your content has to be top notch to keep people engaged so make sure whoever writes your blog creates something worth reading. You wouldn’t sell substandard product, so why ‘sell’ a substandard blog? If you are not able to create something of a good enough quality then find someone who can. If there is someone you know who can do it, great! If there isn’t search around for someone who is experienced in copywriting and employ them. Good copywriters are worth their weight in gold and can prove it, if you need them to.
Your company blog is a great way to SEO your content and rank higher in search engine ratings. You can work on certain keywords and naturally work them into your website. A copywriter is the best person to naturally weave in the words and phrases your customers use to search for sites to review, making them part of the experience rather than forcing them at your audience. Do not ignore the opportunity for exposure a blog offers.
It’s a lot of work to keep a regular blog, but the returns on the investment are huge if you work it well. Your first attempts may be less than successful, but don’t give up. As you practice writing for your audience you will think of all the things that interest them and get familiar with how they want it presented. Just keep going! You prospects are waiting to hear from you.
101 things I learned about blogging: http://www.dailyblogtips.com/101-blog-tips-i-learned-in-2006/