The Importance Of Research Before Production When It Comes To Blog Post Content

The key factor to any successful blog is content.  No matter how much advertising or promotion of your blog you do, without great quality content that engages with your audience, your blog is going to be, at the very least, a completely forgettable place – if not something that has a negative impact upon your brand.

A blog without great content – or almost no content – is exactly the same as a shop without suitable products (or any products at all).  Sure, you may consider taking a look once, but if there’s nothing there of interest, why would you ever consider returning?

As we discuss regularly, the problem is effective blog post content isn’t easy to write.  It’s not something that can be produced quickly, as a substantial amount of research needs to go in to ensuring your blog posts are as beneficial as they can be – and it’s this research aspect that we want to elaborate on further today.

Differences when writing other copy

When you’re creating a press release, you know what you have to do.   Your first paragraph needs to not only explain what the entire press release is about, but it needs to give the reader enough information to make them want to continue reading, without bombarding them with masses of details.

Generally speaking, you also need to keep a formal, professional tone to the piece.  You can of course sway from this requirement and you may see some success, but when most have an expectation for formality, it’s a risky move.

Covering just a few points that need to be taken into consideration when writing a press release, the important point to note in this situation is that there’s no research required.  Your topic is relatively fixed, so there’s no leeway there.  Your audience have set expectations, so you can’t deviate much from them (without risk) and you have no need to change any other aspect to ‘keep up’ with your competitors, as their press releases will be very similar to yours.

A lack of ‘blog content rules’

With a blog post, you have no fixed guidelines that you have to follow. You have no rules that you need to be abide by.  You can’t even directly replicate your last blog post’s style without a sufficient amount of analysis.

And it’s for these reasons why research is such an integral part of the blog post content creation process.

With research needing to take place at all stages, it varies in its complexity and time required, often in a way that is surprising to many.

For example, you of course have the somewhat obvious research requirement of topics, ensuring you have something worthwhile to talk about on your blog.  Initially, this can seem like a relatively quick process – a few of your keywords in Google or on Twitter might throw up half a dozen suitable ideas within a matter of seconds.

Once you have your initial ideas, you then need to look at your competitors to see if they have produced content on a similar topic recently.  If they have, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t, but you need to be careful not to simply replicate what they’ve talked about.  It’s also worthwhile researching how successful their blog post was – if it appears to have fallen flat on its face, you either need to try and discover why or simply avoid the topic altogether.

In addition, it might seem obvious, but it’s important you research your previous content.  With your new ideas, if they’re similar to past blog posts, are you simply rewording old content or can you offer something new that’s of value to your audience?

Your audience and the SEO impact of your content

Researching your audience is also an extremely important part of the blog post content creation process.  You might believe you have the best topic idea in the world, but if you take a look at the type of content your target audience is reading and engaging with and it proves to be world’s apart from your idea, it could be beneficial to hold off on the topic temporarily.    Of course, someone has to start new trends and discussions within the industry, but this is often best done through linked ideas and developed conversations, rather than trying to start something that’s poles apart from what is currently ‘in vogue’.

You can’t forget the SEO aspect either, as just because you’re trying to focus on ranking highly for one or two keywords, it doesn’t mean they’re the best ones for the piece being produced.

As part of our business blogging services, we always carry out an in-depth keyword analysis for our clients.  The result is a document that provides a range of different keywords which would be beneficial to utilise in blog post content, meaning there should usually be at least a handful of keywords able to be used in most company-related topics.  However, if there isn’t, we don’t simply use the closest keyword to the topic we’re discussing.  Instead, we research specific keywords for the blog post.  It might turn out that we just need to use a slight variation on a keyword we’ve used previously or there could be a need to use a new keyword we haven’t focused on before.  This is all discovered through further research, ensuring the most suitable keywords are able to be utilised – for both company and reader – throughout the blog post.

It’s surprising for many of our clients to hear that more time is often spent researching than actually writing blog posts.  Whilst our bloggers do a fantastic job producing the highest quality content for our clients, they rely heavily on the research that’s carried out before they even start to put pen to paper (or more appropriately, fingers to keyboard!).

The focus of all effective blogs is the reader.  The content is produced for them, continually engaging and interacting with them.  Although you might get lucky and be able to write a quick blog post that is well-received without any type of research, your blogging strategy shouldn’t rely on luck – and if a sufficient amount of research is carried out during the content creation process, there really isn’t any reason why it needs to.

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The Single Reason There’s No Such Thing As One Perfect Blog

It doesn’t matter what resource, strategy, project, organisation or industry we look at, everyone’s continually striving to achieve perfection.

Right from when we’re at school, we’re taught that perfection is best.  Perfect is something we must always try to be and if we manage to reach perfection, we’ll see a whole host of benefits.

The problem is that as we grow up and get involved in business, whilst perfection isn’t any less beneficial, it’s sometimes impossible to achieve.

This is a very similar situation to the one that those people trying to directly replicate a perfect blog are in – it’s an impossible feat.

At The Blogshop, we develop and deliver business blogging strategies for clients in a wide variety of different industries.  Whilst each strategy has the same, basic foundations in place, the actual specifics and intricacies of the strategy vary massively.

Although this is, in the first instance, due to the organisation’s requirements and their expectations from blogging, it all ultimately comes down to the fact that the organisations are trying to satisfy their audiences and every audience is different.  Often considerably so.

What’s more, audiences can differ hugely for organisations within the same industry, even if it’s particularly niche.

Take two baby product retailers as an example.  Both selling very similar items and targeting audiences with almost the exact same demographics, if one is reaching out to parents in the south and the other parents in the north, this slight difference could be all it takes to mean a completely different focus is needed.

Applying to the layout as much as the content, what works for one audience won’t necessarily work for another, no matter how successful it has been.  Using Mindjet’s Conspi.re blog as an example, it won our ‘Best Blog Design’ award in 2012 and there’s little doubt that it’s a fantastically designed blog that works well when it comes to reader-engagement.

But as great as it is, it’s unlikely to work in its exact state for a business such as a small clothing retailer.  The layout is too formal, the whole experience is very professional and the approach to the content is too business-like for a small business retailer.  The basics could work as they stand, but the rest would need tweaking to ensure success elsewhere.

Every single organisation out there can benefit from business blogging.  No exceptions.

For those already blogging, you’ll find some organisations are blogging OK, some need help and some are doing it so well that it appears they’ve got a perfect blogging strategy in place – and chances are, they have.

But as soon as you try to mimic their success like-for-like for another audience, at best you’re going to see fewer benefits and at worst it’s going to be a complete flop.  And that’s purely for the fact that every single blogging strategy out there needs to be developed and implemented for a specific audience, as only then can you be on the path to perfection.

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10 Social Media Prompts To Ensure You See The Most Benefits Possible

As part of our business blogging services, we provide social media management alongside blogging. Whilst there’s no doubt effective blog post content is the key to any online success, social media can enhance the benefits and ensure results are seen quicker and on a larger scale than if blogging was used solely by itself.

With various different aspects to consider when it comes to social media management, we often take over existing accounts for clients and see the same mistakes time and time again, with the following 10 prompts used to explain what you should be doing with social media to ensure you don’t succumb to the same common mistakes so many often do.

1. Always engage with others

Social media activity should never be seen as one person lecturing others, constantly selling or promoting their own products or services. Instead, it should be a conversation and you should be actively talking and interacting with others.

2. Extend your reach, but remember quality is better than quantity

Whilst Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can be fantastic social media resources, there are dozens of other networks available to utilise, many of which could be even more suitable than the primary three.

However, it’s important to remember that one great presence on Twitter, for example, will be more beneficial than poor quality presences on 10 other social media networks.

3. Use the networks fully

You can publish a tweet on Twitter and start a new discussion in your own LinkedIn group, but there is so much more to take advantage of, from the use of hashtags and lists in Twitter through to group analytics on LinkedIn, all helping you to extend your reach and see the most benefits possible from your social media activity.

4. Regular activity is a must

As with using other social media networks, quality should always come first in terms of your activity and you shouldn’t feel you have to make 20 status updates every day. You do need to have some type of regularity with your activity, however, so to ensure there are no major breaks in your presences.

5. Capitalise on what’s hot

Whilst you should always aim to develop your own voice on social media, if you see something that’s getting a lot of attention, you shouldn’t be afraid to try and capitalise on it.

For instance, if there’s a topical news item related to your industry, consider writing a blog post around it, giving your own view on the subject and then publishing it appropriately across your social media accounts. Essentially ‘jumping on the band wagon’, it’s something that if done effectively will likely see your follower numbers and general activity increase substantially.

6. Publish your own content more than once

When you publish a new blog post, you should promote it on your social media accounts immediately, but you can do this numerous times for the same blog post. When you are promoting the same piece, though, you have to make sure the promotion is slightly different each time, such as by using different hashtags for Twitter or a different title for LinkedIn discussions.

7. Understand your audience

Are your potential customers more active on a morning or afternoon?  Should you start discussions first thing on a morning or last thing on an evening?

Every organisation’s target audience is different and when it comes to social media, although it can seem like users are universally similar, they can in fact be considerably different from each other and it’s important that you’re active at the most suitable times possible.

8. Remember it’s called ‘social’ media

People follow others on Twitter or Facebook, for example, to find out what they’re talking about. The majority of your updates should be related to your business in some way, shape or form, but you shouldn’t be afraid to publish something that’s off-topic or unrelated to your organisation / industry – it shows others that you’re human.

9. Don’t neglect your loyal followers

Over time, you’ll find the same people comment on your statuses, retweet your tweets and get involved with your discussions. With these people, it’s easy to become complacent with them, not thanking them for retweeting or simply assuming they’ll do it continually in the future.

You don’t need to interact with them every time they retweet, for example, but it’s important you don’t neglect them – a ‘thank you’ every now and again will be welcomed, as will retweeting suitable tweets of theirs, commenting on their statuses and getting involved with their discussions.

Social media promotion can help raise the profile of your brand tremendously, but it should never be carried out to the detriment of your content and the creation of suitable content should always be the key factor in any digital strategy.

Social media is very much to content what marketing is to a product – no matter how good your marketing is, if the product doesn’t live up to expectations, the whole strategy is destined to fail from the start.

Often more difficult than many first believe, regular social media management can take up a substantial amount of time and the only true way to ensure your activity is as effective as it can be is to plan, prepare and properly understand exactly what’s required.

When Should You Start Your Business Blog?

Business blogging is a resource that can be used for a variety of reasons.  Sales.  Marketing.  Customer Service.  Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).  Whatever business process or strategy you have in place, business blogging can support or supplement it.

However, the primary focus of any business blogging strategy should be to communicate and engage with your audience, but because of this, many organisations believe they have to wait until they actually have an audience online;  people visiting their website both initially and time and time again.  It might not be hundreds or thousands of people, but some believe that until they have at least some returning visitors, a blog is unnecessary – if it’s for speaking to your audience, what’s the point in developing one if you don’t actually have an audience?

In one hand, this point makes sense, as by launching a blog before you have an audience, you’re likely to be talking to yourself for at least a little while.

In the other, however, it’s completely wrong – and that’s because an effective business blogging strategy will not only engage with your audience, but it will attract your audience and the more you blog, the bigger this audience will become.

It’s for this reason why your business blog should ideally be launched at the same time your website is.

People will visit your website for a specific reason.  It might be to find out more information about the products you offer or further details on the price of your services.  You’ll of course get visitors who have landed on the website by mistake, but the visitors who are truly going to be beneficial as top of funnel leads are the ones who are looking for something in particular.

Without a blog, you’re relying on these visitors getting exactly what it is from the few pages of content you have available.  This content is static and there’s nothing additional to it, which means it effectively has to be perfectly suited to your customers’ needs.

By utilising a blog, however, you offer customers so much more.  Yes, they may only land on one blog post to begin with, but a regularly updated blog could have dozens – if not hundreds – of related blog posts after only a few months.  Each and every post you publish (and make readily available) is another resource that could keep your customers on your site longer – and the longer they’re on your website, the more chance there is of them converting into a customer.

What’s also worthwhile noting is that you could see some considerable results if you actually launched your blog before your website went live.  Giving you the opportunity to start developing an audience, an effective business blogging strategy could help to attract numerous visitors on a regular basis, stirring up interest in your website so that when it does launch, you already have a ready-and-waiting potential customer base eager to find out more about what you have to offer.

Blogging is very much like SEO in one sense.  People have heard of it, they know it’s important, but they often fail to realise that it needs to be implemented as soon as possible – ideally at the launch of your website, if not before.  This isn’t to say you won’t see success by implementing a blogging strategy today, even if your website has been live for several years, as you most definitely will, but if you had a choice between starting a blog at the launch of your website or delaying it for several months, the first option should always be chosen.

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3 Reasons Why The Inc. 500 Are Wrong To Lose Favour With Business Blogging

As a specialist digital agency focusing on delivering business blogging services to organizations of all sizes, we feel it appropriate to give our views on blogging regularly, whether that’s providing ‘How To’ guides drawing on our knowledge and experience or offering our insight into related news stories, something we’re doing here.

A recent study by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth has discovered that there has been a decrease in the number of Inc. 500 companies – the 500 fastest growing, privately owned companies in America – utilizing business blogs for the first time since 2007, opting for a greater level of activity on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Somewhat of a startling fact upon first hearing it, there has been a lot of discussion around this decline, with views on both sides of the fence.

While we understand that each individual organization has their own requirements – which we respect explicitly – we truly believe that the decline in the number of 500 Inc. companies utilizing a business blog is wrong, for three main reasons.

Before we start, however, we want to touch upon one point that we haven’t seen any focus on – there were only 33 less Inc. 500 companies using a business blog than the previous year.

Having an active presence on numerous social media platforms is fantastic and you’d be hard pushed to find a large number of people who would say that having a presence and following on Twitter and Facebook, for instance, would be detrimental to your business.

However, while the likes of Twitter and Facebook are social platforms and the basic idea is to interact with your followers – all of whom are, in theory, potential customers – how are you converting followers to customers?

This is fantastic if you’re replying to a customer who has said they enjoyed your product or service, but what about when you’re trying to attract new customers to your website?

Posting something such as ‘Find Out More About Us’ followed by a link to your website isn’t likely to cut it, yet you’re going to struggle to summarise exactly what you do, on a regular basis, in just 140 characters.

And it’s here where the link between business blogging and social media interaction is as prominent as ever, as they both integrate perfectly with each other.

A business blog gives organizations the opportunity to develop a platform whereby they can publish informational, educational, product, service, organization and / or industry related pieces.

Publicise these blogs posts on your social networks and you can instantly start to develop a routine whereby you’re combining the manual, social interaction with your followers with the automatic publishing of your regular blog posts, giving you the ideal ’80 / 20′ ratio – 80% general interaction, 20% business development.

2.  Quality content will always be of benefit

One of the most prominent rules for any organization operating online is that quality content will always be of benefit to an organization.

Although there’s no doubt a short message on a social network can be classed as quality content, the simple premise behind these networks – instant interactivity – means that quality content can soon be lost or forgotten once its initial appeal has passed.

By developing and maintaining a business blog, quality content can not only be created at any length required, but it is stored permanently, meaning it will be of benefit from the moment it’s published for years to come.

3.  Research shows business blogging is going to be big

What surprised us most about the decrease in blogging activity from the Inc. 500 is that it goes against numerous other pieces of research into blogging.

Take a 2011 study into social media by Richmond Events / UK Business Panel as an example.

The research showed that organizations found blogs to be a more effective social resource over Twitter and Facebook and from a number of statements regarding usage and spending, more organizations agreed that they were to increase their social resource spending in the future over any other statement.

We would never argue that the use of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook should be discontinued for any organization, as we truly believe they can be particularly beneficial.

However, their benefits are very often greater, available quicker and longer-lasting if they are integrated with another, information-based resource – and a business blog provides the perfect platform for this.

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Should You Be Formal On A Business Blog?

When it comes to blogging in any capacity, there are no set rules.  You’ll of course find advice and guidance if you want it, but because blogging is such a versatile resource, it can generally be utilised in most ways.

The problem is that a lot of the time, understanding what should be done to see the most results can be confusing.

And for business blogs, a perfect example of the potential confusion comes when you look at the approach you take when communicating with your target audience.

A blog is a social platform.  When blogs first started, they were online diaries where people could publish their thoughts to the world; platforms that allowed people to express their thoughts.  Whether the writing was grammatically perfect or not, people enjoyed reading through the regular updates, often inspired to create their own blog.

When we fast-forward at least a decade, blogging has changed quite considerably in a variety of ways, but the basic principle of providing content on a regular basis to a ready and waiting audience is still there – and it’s still done so in a social way.

As organisations first become aware of this, they often think one of two things – the social approach isn’t going to work for them so they won’t blog at all or they’ll ignore the social aspect and write in the formal style that they want to.

In some instances, this might work.  As there are no set rules for blogging, it’s likely that occasionally, producing formal content and publishing it on your blog will work.  People will visit, they’ll read the content and they’ll enjoy it.  They’ll engage and they’ll share.

But in many other instances, the effect will be anything but positive.

And the reason behind this is a formal approach to blogging detracts from the most basic focus of using a blog – to communicate with your target audience on a social level.

People don’t want to be sold to, nor do they want to be spoken to.  They don’t want to feel as though reading the content you produce is a chore or that they have to do something as a result of reading it.

They want content they feel comfortable reading, content that they can engage with and respond to.  The blog posts need to be produced on a level that makes a reader want to read it and return time and time again to read more in the future.

This doesn’t mean the blog post can’t be about a more formal, business topic, such as a research study or an annual report.  What it does mean is that you should be able to differentiate between content that is suitable for a social audience and content that’s produced for other professional situations, such as presentations, e-mail campaigns or sales pages.

It’s often underestimated how complex it can be creating an effective blog post.  Finding that professional, business voice that suits your audience without being overly formal or conversely, overly social can be difficult.  It can take time and perseverance.

The most important thing you shouldn’t do, however, is to make a decision on the type of content you’re going to produce before you’ve even analysed your audience or taken into consideration the various approaches available.  A formal voice may work in some situations, but it needs to be understood that for blogging, it’s not the norm.

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5 Things Your Business Blog Content Shouldn’t Do

Designing and building your business blog is without doubt a difficult process.  A lot of time and effort needs to be invested in all aspects, with much of the time often dedicated to seemingly simple things, such as colour schemes and the sidebar layout.

Once up and running, it can be thought that the most difficult part of the blogging process is out of the way.  However, many people often forget the difficulties associated when writing suitable copy for their blog.

Generally a more conversational, social platform – and the content that’s produced should usually follow this same path – it can be underestimated just how difficult it is to produce blog content that’s suitable for your target audience.  Content that follows the basic guidelines of blogging and which is of benefit to SEO, whilst always providing value to your readers and engaging with them in such a way that they want to find out more about your company.

Looking at some of the more common mistakes we often see with business blog copy, here we provide an insight into five things your business blog content really shouldn’t do.

Sell, sell, sell

You can use a business blog to provide information to your target audience.   What you should never use it as, however, is a base for nothing more than sales copy.

We always tell our clients that if used effectively, a business blog can be a great way to promote your products and increase sales, but what readers don’t want to do is read a blog post where every other sentence is sales-based.

Sell to them like this and you’ll see some great results.  Use your copy to give them the hard sell and you’ll find you lose readers in droves.

Be too personal

A bit of personality is always good on a blog. Whether that means drawing on personal experiences or simply using phrases such as ‘I’ or ‘we’, a personal touch added to content can make readers feel more engaged with the company.

Add too much personality or individuality to your blog posts though and you risk alienating people. Readers have visited to find out more about your company, your products / services or your views on a certain topic – they don’t want to be reading about what you had for lunch, where you took your children at the weekend or how expensive petrol is, unless there is some direct link to content that is actually of use or interest to them.

Pressurise

Whilst there’s no doubt a blog can be used for a variety of sales or marketing-type reasons, it should in no way pressurise the reader into doing something.  Reading a blog post should be an enjoyable experience.

What it shouldn’t be is something you worry about doing because you’re concerned you’ll be pressured into buying or signing up to something.

You shouldn’t continually throw links to your social media accounts at them. By carrying on like this, you’ll do nothing but make readers click away from your blog.

By explaining to your readers where they can find out more information about your products or services and how they can sign up to your newsletter, subscribe to your RSS feed or follow you on social networks, the copy will be a lot less pressurising and you’re more likely to see the results you need.

Bore

A blog post of any kind should be interesting.   It doesn’t have to stand out as one of the best pieces of writing ever, but it needs to grip your readers in such a way that they want to read it all – and ideally, go on to read more of your blog posts.

Readers have taken time out of their day to visit your blog and they want to know that they’ve spent that time wisely.  They don’t want to leave thinking they’ve read a few hundred words and got no benefit from it whatsoever – and that’s if you can actually keep them on the blog long enough.

The problem here is not many writers will believe their content is boring and the only true way to discover whether it is or isn’t is to analyse your stats.  If you take a look at the most visited blog post and the least visited, you should be able to see some noticeable differences – and it’s these differences that will often show you what makes your blog post boring (and conversely, interesting).

Sometimes the best blog posts cover topical issues and other times they quote research studies, but their success could also simply be down to the way the piece was approached and the style the content was written in.

Offer too much, too soon

We’re not saying here that your blog post should take several paragraphs to get to even the opening point or piece of messaging, but we often see blog posts approached in the same way an e-mail campaign or press release is.  With these two types of copy, it’s important to grab your reader from the outset by telling them exactly what it is you’re talking about.  The opening few sentences need to be so direct and specific that you are essentially using them to summarise the rest of the copy.

With blogging, you don’t need to do that.  People visit blogs voluntarily and know that they’re going to be spending at least a few minutes reading content.  They want to be told a story and they don’t want to feel that after the first paragraph, they know everything there is to know about the blog post’s topic.

A blog post can be classed as a piece of commercial writing – even sales copy – but it should always have the aim of engaging with your readers in such a way that they feel the need to read through the piece in full (and where appropriate, interact with your calls to action).

At the lowest common denominator, writing blog post content is simply typing words onto a screen.  The complexities involved are often so substantial and in-depth, however, that the simple fact is many organisations fail to write suitable content for their business blog.

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The Importance Of Calls To Actions When It Comes To Converting Your Blog’s Readers

A few weeks ago, Neil Patel put up a great blog post over on his Quick Sprout blog titled ‘How To Convert Blog Readers Into Customers‘.

As the title suggests, it gives some fantastic points on how you can take the people who are reading your blog’s content and develop them into paying customers of your products or services.

Touching on a number of different methods and techniques, we want to focus on just one of them today – the use of Calls To Actions.

A blog can be used for sales, but the content shouldn’t be sales copy

As we’ve talked about previously, a business blog can be used for almost any purpose you’d like.  Customer engagement is the most obvious, with a notable impact here on brand awareness and reputation, but there really is no reason why you can’t utilise the platform for any other business purpose you need.

However, one thing that has to be noted is that just because you choose to use your business blog as a sales resource, for example,  it doesn’t mean that you need to fill it with sales copy.  The content does need to take a different approach to that for SEO or marketing, but it needs to be understood that it’s the blog in its entirety that’s going to help with the sales focus – and this is exactly where a Call To Action will come into play.

Your blog’s content is used to attract people.   You need to provide information that’s going to be of use to them and make them want to find out more.  Once you have this type of content on your business blog, you’ve got a resource full of useful and detailed information that people keep returning to time and time again.

The reason they return is because the content is genuinely engaging with them and they’re getting use from it.  It’s not pushing for a sale or asking them to do something.  And this is exactly the way the content needs to remain.

But through the careful implementation of a Call To Action, however, you don’t risk jeopardising the trust and confidence the reader has in you, but you give them the option to find out more or carry something out in a way that’s going to be of benefit to your organisation.

It’s all about subtlety

Think about it like this.  You’ve got a website that sells cars and the blog is packed full of information about all of the different manufacturers you sell, the benefits of driving certain cars, how to get the most out of a specific model, etc.

Through the blog, you’re drawing your exact target audience in – people who are interested in the cars you’re selling.

Now you could write the occasional blog post that’s particularly sales-focused and some people may convert.  However, most will realise it’s out of the norm for you and ignore it.

A better option would be to put a button in the sidebar that is attractive; one that’s going to easily catch people’s attention.  Keeping it there no matter where the reader goes on the blog, you’re subtly asking the reader to click on the Call To Action, but you’re not forcing them to do it and the customer doesn’t feel like it’s being constantly put in front of them – it’s out of the way and if they wanted to, they could ignore it and just read the content.

But when the Call To Action is inviting and linked to the content, not many people are going to be able to resist at least finding out what happens when they click on the button.

For example, if you’ve just wrote 20 blog posts all about caring for a Ford Mondeo and your Call To Action was ‘Enter your e-mail address to find the cheapest deal on Ford Mondeo insurance – FACT!’, it’s so suited to the readers that it’s highly likely at least a good percentage are going to click on it.

It’s effective, it’s subtle and most importantly, it puts the decision in the reader’s hands.  When a person feels like they’re making the decision, they feel much more comfortable to do something.

Converting your blog’s readers into customers isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be headache-inducing either – and with the right knowledge, experience and information to hand, your blog should be able to be developed into a resource that increases your customer base considerably.

5 Ways To Get More People Reading Your Blog Posts

Like many digital resources, blogging is often misunderstood.  Whilst in its most basic form it is simply the production of content to be published online, there is such a lot more to go with it that it often comes as a huge surprise to our clients when we start to talk about our business blogging services, particularly our full strategies.

Starting by producing high quality, unique, customer focused content, the aspect that many fail to fully understand is the promotional side.  Yes, if you left your blog alone and simply published content on it regularly you would see visitors, but you can greatly enhance the number you receive by carrying out a range of different processes and activities.

Utilising social media, for example, can be a fantastic way to instantly increase the reach of your blog posts, but there are a number of other great ways, too.  Some are quite well-known in the blogging industry, whilst others may be completely new to you, with these five being a selection of both.

1.  Include the latest link within your e-mail signature

Let’s imagine you have 100 employees in your organisation.  Each employee sends five external e-mails every day, meaning 2,500 e-mails are sent out every week to external individuals.

Or if you look at it another away, 2,500 opportunities to promote your latest blog post.

A relatively easy process, integrating your blog’s feed into your e-mail signature means that you instantly put your blog post in front of an audience that is very likely to be at least partly interested in what you have to say – and that’s without doing anything other than sending your normal e-mails.

2.  Automatically push to active social media groups

We consider social media an integral part of our business blogging strategies and one of the most simple yet effective parts is the automatic push of new blog posts to social media.

Particularly effective for those organisations who want to remain active on social media themselves, by ensuring your blog and social media accounts ‘talk’ to each other, you can concentrate on engaging with your audience and not have to worry whether your content is being promoted – it will happen automatically upon it going live.

3.  Engage with other bloggers

Over time your blog will develop a loyal audience, full of people who will return time and time again to read the content you publish.  Whilst this will happen naturally, it can be extremely beneficial to reach out and engage with other bloggers and their audiences.

Researching similar blogs within your industry, by simply commenting on other blog posts regularly, you’ll find that your engage with both the blogger and the readers of the blog, something that will lead people to want to take a look at your own content.

Plus, it can also help to build great relationships with the bloggers, something that can be extremely beneficial when considering guest blog posting.

4.  Become a voice of authority in suitable forums

You may think that forums are a thing of the past now that we have the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but there are still numerous extremely active forums out there, with at least a handful in most industries.

If you can become a regular contributor to discussions in a forum, by using your signature to display your blog’s details, every time you make a comment, your blog will be advertised – and it will remain advertised unless your comment or the thread gets deleted.

Forums don’t usually use the ‘follow’ attribute on links, so they won’t be of value in terms of SEO, but one or two hundred comments in an active forum over the course of a few months provides advertising for your blog, as well as increasing your company’s reputation as a thought leader and voice of authority.

5.  Talk about topics that are actually of interest

A blog is a platform upon which you can communicate with your target audience.  It allows you to talk about, in theory, any topic you wish, although it obviously makes the most sense to discuss topics related to your industry.

It might sound like a simple point, but the more attractive and enticing your blog posts are, the more people are likely to read them.  It’s the same with the topics and subjects your blog posts revolve around – if you can tie in something that’s being talked about in the news or an event which has happened recently, you’ll find more people come across your blog posts as more people are reading about those subjects in general.

Your blog will naturally develop over time without any other form of input, but when you have a potential audience of millions out there, it makes complete commercial sense to understand how you can engage with them to ensure they read your blog posts and interact with your organisation online.

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Can You Really Afford To Keep Your Business Blogging In-House?

Business blogging is still a relatively new resource.  Like anything that’s new, we understand that organisations can be wary about investing in it and a lot of this is because of budgets and the financial implication.

While we aim to keep the cost of our business blogging services as low as possible, we understand that budgets can be set and we often hear organisations deciding to keep their blogging and social media activities in-house because they believe it’s cheaper.

What we want to do today is ensure you fully understand just how much work is involved with business blogging.  When we first hear that an organisation is considering doing everything in-house, we always aim to  tell them what’s involved so they have a good understanding of how many resources need to be allocated to the strategy – and it regularly proves to be quite surprising!

The creation of the blog post

At the highest level, a blog post is simply a few hundred words drafted together and published on a blog.  This really is at the highest level, however and it’s this that is often misunderstood – writing a few hundreds might only take 20 or 30 minutes, but to produce a blog post that’s going to be as effective as you need it to be, you could easily be looking at two hours (and that’s assuming you have good keyboard skills!).

For instance, before we even start drafting the content, we carry out in-depth research of the industry.  We look to see what topical news items are gaining the most publicity, which are most suited to the client’s audience and if there’s a suitable topic or two, how we can then tie these into content that would be suitable for the blog.

In addition to this research, we take a look at competitor blogs and monitor social media.  This ensures we get a full and in-depth understanding of exactly what’s being talked about in the industry and by the client’s audience, so we can be confident that the blog posts we go on to draft will be as best received as they can possibly be.

At this point, we then start to discuss blog post titles and use the results of our research combined with our knowledge and experience to ensure we are able to produce an attention-grabbing, informative and attractive title – and only then do we begin to draft the actual blog post copy.

Although each writer has their own techniques, we generally set aside 45 minutes for the very first draft of the copy, with another 30 minutes for proofing and editing.  By this stage, when the research has been taken into consideration, the process has taken around 1 hour and 30 minutes on average.

Once the blog post has been created – and approved by the client – we then upload the content to the blog and optimise it fully.  Taking into account a whole variety of different aspects, from effective meta descriptions through to the most suitable alt tag copy for images, another 20 minutes is often taken up by the optimisation process, which also takes into account a final proof to ensure the blog post will be as successful as possible.

We then schedule it to go live at a suitable time according to the content calendar – and as soon as it’s published, we begin the second part of the process.

The promotion of the blog post

At the time of the blog post’s optimisation, we ensure, where possible, that it is pushed to the relevant social media websites instantly.  Generally consisting of Twitter and Facebook, we utilise the relevant WordPress plugins to ensure the copy fits within the specific guidelines for each social network and that it is as effective as it can be upon publishing.

It might seem like this is sufficient social media activity for some, but it really is only the basics.

For example, what about the integration with not only your own LinkedIn group, but other industry relevant groups?  We very often publish blog posts to a number of LinkedIn groups to extend their reach, whilst adding positively to the discussions within the groups.

StumbleUpon and Digg are also resources we regularly use.  Allowing us to put the content in front of a potential audience of millions, it requires some optimisation and research to ensure it is published in the most suitable areas, but the time spent here can bring with it some fantastic traffic.

And to ensure that all social media promotion is as effective as it can be, you need to be active regularly on each platform throughout the week, engaging with audiences to ensure the utmost success.  Therefore, you could easily be looking at three hours of social media activity every week.

But that’s not all – you’ve then got to think about responding to comments, engaging with other bloggers, general promotional activity away from blogging and the continuous development of the blog, all of which are vital components to implementing an effective business blogging strategy.  What’s more, they may not take hours individually, but collectively their time soon mounts up and what’s turned from someone agreeing to write a blog post during their lunch hour has turned into at least a day or two every week needing to be dedicated to the cause.

Business blogging is a vital component of any digital marketing strategy.  However, many organisations don’t fully understand how complex and time-consuming it is and believe they can carry it out internally.  Whilst we’re sure some organisations could, the fact is most simply don’t have the resources to dedicate to ensure their blogging and social media activities are as successful as they can be.

And when you consider our full business blogging strategies start at just a few hundred pounds per month, it’s understandable why so many organisations choose to outsource their business blogging and social media work!

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