Before the work week begins, I hope you’ll join me in offering our thoughts and prayers to the people affected by the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami.  Below please find information on aiding the efforts of the American Red Cross.

And now…

Blogs are kinda where mainstream social media began. People just had something to say…and Web Logs (a/k/a “Blogs”) were the new, inexpensive, and immediately available way to say them.

Now, we advise businesses to use blogs as part of an overall content strategy to accomplish one or more of these 3 objectives:

  1. Define who you are (brand voice)
  2. Improve organic search results and increase site traffic
  3. Generate leads

With help from Hubspot, here are some tips to help you accomplish all 3.

Define who you are

Blogs are about content.  Lots and lots of content.  For a moment, I’m going to leave all the high-minded talk about brand to others.  I’d just like to address a very practical question we’re asked a lot – “I like the idea of blogging, but finding ideas to write about and the time to write them is overwhelming.  How do I make this happen?”

Does this sound like you?    We get it.  So here’s a thought:

Probe you own mind.  Don’t you get questions all the time from customers and potential customers by email, phone and in person?  Find article ideas in your sent items folder in your email by reviewing how you’ve answered those questions.  Ask your sales and customer service people about the questions they get and the issues they run into.  You’re sure to cover many popular topics.

We think it’s also important to get the whole company involved and not dump all the blogging and content-creation responsibility on one person. How do you engage the whole company? At HubSpot they have 80 different people who have written for their blog. They do contests. Public praise. Executives contribute. And they say they’ve built it into some of the employee goals for a couple of different groups in the company. Get everyone addicted to the process of blogging, the feedback and the positive loop that can happen by publishing an article.

If you want more comments on your posts – ask a question at the end of the article or be controversial. The more controversial you are, the more comments you will get. Also, leave part of the issue untouched. If you completely cover a topic, you’re not really leaving room for people to add something to it.

Improve search results and site traffic

All that content should grab the attention of the search engines.  One of the first things to remember is that your articles should be keyword rich.  Use keywords that your audience would be searching for – in your titles.

We suggest using both e-mail and RSS subscription. Certainly, most blogging services include RSS. There are ways to do email subscription as well. When you publish a new blog article, it can automatically go to the people subscribing to the blog by e-mail. For Hubspot, about a third of their blog subscribers are by e-mail. Other folks have 70 or 80 percent of their blog readers subscribe by email. Some site visitors use RSS, some use email more, and you should have both of those available to make sure that you’re making it as easy as possible for people to get your blog content if they’re interested in it.

Having an image in every article is good as is adding video.  They make it more visually appealing and give people something to gravitate towards rather than just a whole bunch of text on the page.  They make your blog more informative, more engaging, and therefore more useful.

Generate leads

Ultimately, whatever your business, you want new customers.  If you use landing pages in tandem with your blogs (and you probably should), it’s important to use calls to action to drive more traffic to your landing pages.  Strive to have a call to action in every post – acting as a link to someplace that captures visitors and gets them moving down the sales and marketing process. (e.g.; where people can register, opt-in, start a trial, buy a product, etc.)

Hubspot reports that adding calls to action to their blog almost tripled the number of leads they were getting from the blog.

We suggest using these tips as a foundation for your blogging program.  Don’t use them, and you’re probably throwing your time and money away.

What’s the one thing you want to improve about your blog results?  Let us know.

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When I think of a 23 foot high wall of water extending up to 8 miles inland…there are no words.  As always in disaster, the incredible people of the Red Cross were sending help almost immediately.  From their website:

Those who want to help can go to www.redcross.org and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.