<< Return

How to Beat the Battle of an Ineffective Blog - 4/19/2016 -


Harris
How to Beat the Battle of an Ineffective Blog

Whatís holding your organization back from publishing a successful blog? Discover the five most common blog problems and learn how to fix them.

By Jodi Harris

Blogging is a powerful means of building an audience for your brand, and sustaining their interest over time ó something every content effort should strive to achieve. Yet, according to the Content Marketing Instituteís 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study, many content publishers struggle to feel effective at blogging.

Whatís holding these organizations back from beating the battle of the blog? For starters, the B2B research found that more than half (55 percent) of content marketers lack a clear idea of what content marketing success looks like for their organization. It may seem backward, but many organizations begin blogging before they outline the goals to which they want their efforts to contribute or before they even understand how to gauge its performance.

If you arenít feeling effective with your blog, chances are you are struggling with at least one of the following issues, and you might benefit from the tips and examples below:

PROBLEM 1: YOU ARENíT PUBLISHING ON A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE.

Great blog content should be like an eagerly anticipated gift you offer to your readers ó they look forward to every new delivery and are happy to visit your site to retrieve your content as soon as it is available. But what happens when they arrive and the gift they were expecting hasnít shown up? If you canít keep the content engines churning or fail to deliver on the expectations you set with your blog, those readers will walk away disappointed ó and may think twice about returning.

Warning signs: Consistency issues typically result from one of these two underlying problems:

  • Lack of editorial infrastructure. You havenít set a workable schedule for creating and publishing your content or established the necessary workflow that would govern your process.
  • Lack of resources. You need more writers or more creative ideas, or you are running into productivity problems that are keeping your team from being able to bring your ideas to fruition.

Potential solutions:

  • Develop an editorial calendar. Establishing a schedule of topics you will cover and the timeline for doing so can help you set realistic expectations and keep your content creation in line with your marketing goals. Brainstorm ideas to fill your content calendar.
  • Enlist the help of your team members for content creation. Your executives, team members, and even colleagues outside of the marketing department can be motivated to help increase your content coffers.

PROBLEM 2: YOUR BLOG CONTENT ISNíT UNIQUE OR DISTINCT.

For your content to stand out among the competition, it needs to offer distinctive value ó providing information your readers canít get anywhere else, serving a segment of your audience no one else is addressing, or delivering on promises your brand is uniquely qualified to make.

Warning signs: If you arenít giving your audience a compelling reason to choose your content over everything else, they could be spending time with, your blog will never reach its full marketing potential. Here are some sure signs your content is going to fade into the background:

  • You donít know what makes your brand special. You need to identify the specific ways your organization is different than everyone elseís before you can create content that communicates with a signature tone, voice, or style.
  • You are targeting too broad an audience. As Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi often says, if your content is meant for everybody, it wonít benefit anybody.

Potential solutions:

Craft your editorial mission statement. This sets the tone for all your content creation efforts by defining your unique perspective on your industry and outlining the value proposition your blog content will offer.

Find a new niche. If you donít believe you can be the leading information provider in your chosen content niche, you havenít drilled down deeply enough to find the right angle ó for your blog or any other content your organization offers.

Get creative with your approach. Sometimes the power of a blog isnít rooted in what you say but rather in how you say it. Look for opportunities to take your blog readers down an unexpected path, approach topics from a unique angle, or explore special interests that your brand and its members may have in common. Check out these75 examples for a little inspiration on taking content in a novel direction.

PROBLEM 3: YOUR BLOG IS ALL ABOUT YOU ó NOT YOUR AUDIENCE AND ITS NEEDS.

Ever meet someone at a party who goes on and on about himselfwithout showing any interest in the people heís talking to? If your brand is "that guy,Ē your readers will eventually grow tired of not being heard and look for any excuse to leave the conversation ó for good.

Potential solutions:

  • Highlight ways readers can get involved in your brand and recognize them for their efforts. Donít just say you are interested in your readers ó prove that you value their participation and feedback by responding to their comments, creating opportunities for them to contribute their ideas, andrewarding themfor helping you spread the word about your organization.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of their needs by addressing common pain points and providing relief. Create content with tangible value such as tips, templates, and tool kits; answer your membersí questions; or give your audience access to other real-world solutions that will enable them to accomplish their tasks more quickly and more effectively, with your brand at the top of their minds.

PROBLEM 4: YOUR CONTENT HAS A SHORT SHELF LIFE OR LIMITED REACH.

Content can be the gift that keeps on giving ó for your brand, as well as for the readers who love it. But for this to happen, you need to know how to squeeze as much value as you can from every piece of content you create and get it into the hands of as many interested readers as possible.

Warning signs:There are a few key reasons why your blog content might be withering on the vine instead of spreading its seeds far and wide:

  • You arenít producing evergreen content. Trend- or news-focused content is great for illustrating your brandís insights,but this type of content typically comes with a built-in expiration date, cutting off your potential for long-tail engagement.
  • You arenít making it clear you want readers to speak on your brandís behalf. If you arenít making it as easy as possible for readers to share your content, you are making it harder for your influence to spread.
  • You publish, then move on. Content marketing isnít for those lazy, set-it-and-forget-it organizations. It takes hard work before, during, and after you publish to make sure your content works hard to bring you success.

Potential solutions:

  • Use content curation techniques to refresh older posts. In addition to creating content on evergreen topics that have long-lasting relevance, you can also give your aging content a new lease on life by updating popular posts with more contemporary advice, linking to newer sources of information, including outside perspectives on the topic, or adding fresh visuals ó like infographics or videos ó to liven up the discussion. Then, republish the post, making sure to acknowledge ó and link to ó the original.
  • Enable the sharing behaviors you seek. Featuring sharing buttons, requests for comments, and calls to action in your blog posts signal to readers that you would like them to share their brand love, while helping you channel their assistance in the specific directions you desire.
  • Promote your content. If you want to extend your blogís life span and expand its reach beyond your circle of influence, consider supporting your posts with paid promotional techniques like native advertising, promoted posts, and search ads.

PROBLEM 5: YOU ARENíT USING YOUR BLOG TO BUILD SUBSCRIBERS.

Letís face it: For your blog to be effective, it needs to help you achieve your goals, not just boost your brandís ego and pad your writersí personal portfolios. Increasing subscriptions is a solid, measurable step in that direction given that the awareness and interest the blog generates now can be nurtured into long-term brand engagement and loyalty over time.

Warning signs:Why arenít your blog readers signing up for more? Perhaps your content is getting caught up in one of these likely traps:

  • You arenít directing readers down the path you want them to follow. It took your hard work to bring guests to your door ó why would you just let them wander around aimlessly once theyíve arrived?
  • You arenít making a compelling case for subscription. Sometimes readers need a little convincing to help them decide that your content is worth raising their hand for.
  • Your offerings are all-or-nothing. While a one-size-fits-all subscription might satisfy some enthusiastic brand fans, it could be a big turn-off to casual readers, or those who are already inundated with unread emails in their inboxes.
Potential solutions:

  • Include a call to action that directs site visitors to take the next step. Be clear as to what you want them to do and highlight the benefits theyíll receive in return. But remember,your ask doesnít need to follow the same format every time. Consider these alternatives to the traditional text-based end-of-post call out.
  • Offer an incentive to sweeten the deal. Give subscribers access to exclusive content, insider discounts, or other members-only benefits in exchange for their permission to connect with them more directly. Youíll be surprised at how much more willing readers may be to share their personal info when they feel they are getting something tangible in return.
  • Enable subscribers to customize the communications they receive. Just because a reader doesnít want to hear from you every day doesnít mean she might not appreciate the opportunity to receive a monthly message or hear about specific types of offers. By making your terms of engagement flexible and giving readers the power of choice, youíll make the experience more comfortable, satisfying, and mutually beneficial.

CONCLUSION

Blogging may have low barriers to entry, but that doesnít mean itís an effortless path to content marketing effectiveness. Fortunately, a few small blogging hacks and helpers like the ones above can make a big difference in your brandís potential for attracting, impacting, and activating your audience more successfully.

Jodi Harris is director of editorial content and curation at Content Marketing Institute. As an experienced content management consultant, she helps businesses analyze their content needs and resources; build infrastructure and operations; and create and distribute relevant, engaging brand messages across multiple media channels and platforms. Follow Harris on Twitter at@Joderama. This article was excerpted with permission from the Content Marketing Institute.


 

© Copyright 2017, Association Media and Publishing. All rights reserved.