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
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
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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
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.
- 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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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.