The list is long of those around your office wondering what is the purpose of your company blog? One reason for this is that you may not even know why you have a B2B blog. Well, I am here to tell you. It’s to get leads. Fortunately, blogs can be great at lead generation.
Blog posts were cited as one of the most consumed content formats in Demand Gen Report’s 2018 Content Preferences Survey, with 71 percent reporting they reviewed a blog while on their buying journey. That same report went on to say 71 percent said they read a blog post as part of their research in a B2B buying decision.
So are you getting leads from your B2B blog? How can you tell? If not, we’re here to help.
Optimize for Search
I don’t want to get too into the weeds about the optimizing your posts for SEO. If you’re not doing it, you’re wasting time and money. You can watch our 15-minute on-demand webinar to learn how.
Next, make things easy for yourself and install the WordPress plugin “Yoast SEO.” It will give you a list of things to fix, optimize or complete to get your post SEO-ready. Just keep following its suggestions until the little Yoast SEO button turns green.
Offer “content upgrades” CTAs
These are related content pieces made of more detailed or more actionable information than what’s included in the post. You’ll often see CTA’s at the end of a post, but I consider a content upgrade to be a CTA inserted somewhere in the post itself. Content Marketing Institute does this on their blog. You’ll see more often on the Act-On blog, too.
The key element of the content upgrade is to link to a gated asset, with an opt-in form for getting the visitor’s email address. This is one of the best ways to not only get leads, but to also get leads who have raised their hands for a specific kind of content. You can figure out a lot about not only their interests, but where they are in the buying cycle, simply by tracking which pieces of content they’ve asked for.
But there is a downside. You’ll need the content upgrade – the new piece of content. That means a bit more work, but it’s worth it. Some marketers have increased their blog’s opt-in rates by more than 300% with content upgrades.
Here are some ideas for possible content upgrades:
- A template (social media, sales letter, editorial calendar, creative brief for videos, etc.)
- An eBook or whitepaper
- An on-demand webinar
Offer recommended reading at the close of blog posts
This is basically the free version of a content upgrade (free because there’s no email address required). It’s not nearly as good for lead generation, because you aren’t getting someone’s contact information, but it is a way to keep them on your site and engaged until they are ready to give you their information.
Here’s an example of a related reading box at the end of a blog post on the Act-On blog.
Ask for email addresses
This is a tactic you should be using all over your site, but especially on your blog. Actually, many smaller B2B companies ask for sign-ups only on their blog. They don’t have opt-in forms in the footer, or anywhere else.
Here’s an example of an opt-in form for Act-On’s blog. You can and should A/B test the types of sign-up forms and their locations to see what works best for you.
Plan your content strategically
You want to educate rather than sell on your blog, but that doesn’t mean you can’t educate in a way that supports turning visitors into leads, and leads into customers.
Some of the best lead-generating B2B blogs specifically plan and schedule content for different phases of the buying cycle, and also for different buyer personas.
Planning content for different audiences and different buying phases is difficult. If you’re not sure what people want to know in those early phases of the buying cycles, talk to your customer service department or to your sales team. Both those departments have a trove of knowledge about what your existing customers and current prospects want to learn about.
Customer support, SDRs, and sales people know:
- What questions customers and prospects usually have
- What types of problems they’re looking to solve
- What they’re worried about
- What they hope your product or service will ultimately give them
Make your posts more engaging to read
Too many B2B blogs are less than reader-friendly. This hurts lead gen simply because it means your blog is not very readable. If you want people to read and engage with your content – and maybe even ask for more – you’ve got to make the experience as pleasant as possible for them.
Unfortunately, that means you need to make your content scannable. Far, far more people will scan your posts than read them. And even if they do read them, they need to feel like reading won’t give them a headache.
Here are a few ways to make your blog posts more readable:
- Use subheaders
- Use bullet points
- Write short paragraphs. No more than five lines long, and it’s OK to use one-sentence paragraphs.
- Use an attractive header image, then another image in the blog post about every 300-400 words or so.
- Consider embedding a video, animated gif or a SlideShare.
- Write at a 7th-grade level or less. Use the free Hemingway app to show you which grade level your post comes in at.
Publish more often
I know, I know: You have no time. You can barely keep up with publishing every other week, or even every month.
There’s a bit of contention on how often is best to post. Many major bloggers and marketing experts, like Derek Halpern, Brian Dean, and others got their blogs off the ground with only a post a month. That’s impressive, but honestly, it’s rare. Most blogs need new content at least every other week to see traction. Some consider the weekly post the standard. Check what your competitors do. In many industries it’s mandatory to post daily (or more) if you want to keep up with the competition.
Get all you need to know about blogging trends by checking out Orbit Media Studio’s 2017 survey of 1,000+ bloggers.
If you’re worn out by all the content creation, it’s OK to add some curated content. Aim for about 10-20% of your posts to be curated. This saves time and resources from creating the content, and it also positions you as an authority in your field. If you republish a curated piece whole, use a rel=canonical link in the metadata so Google doesn’t see it as duplicate content.
Convert your posts into other formats
You’ve done the hard work of creating the content – the research, the writing, the images. Why not get some more mileage out of your labors? There’s absolutely no reason blog posts can’t be reformatted into other things. Like…
- Social media updates
- A rewritten guest post
As an example, the Act-On eBook “How to Create a Successful Newsletter” was created by compiling and polishing a series of blog posts.
Promote your blog posts
“If you build it, they will come” may work for baseball teams, but it definitely doesn’t work for blog posts.
Some marketing experts recommend investing 4-5 hours of promotion for every hour spent creating a post. If that seems impossible, aim for a 50/50 split. That’s the formula most successful bloggers force themselves to stick to, even if they’d really rather just go write another post.
Not sure how to promote your posts? Create a plan and include emailing your personal list, share on social media, share more than once on social media, pay for a boost, and the list goes on. Actually, stay tuned to the blog. We’re publishing a post in the coming weeks on how to promote your blog.