The decisions companies make about their IT investments can affect their success for months or years to come, which is why IT leaders look for expert advice long before they get in touch with sales reps. or resellers. We see it as vitally important to demonstrate we understand the problems our target customers face every day, and our company blog has become a great channel to directly communicate that information to customers and prospects who are looking for help. In launching a channel to answer common questions, we’ve found that a blog also helps build our authoritative thought-leadership perspective in the market.
Why should B2B companies blog? Last June, we started looking for a way to address common questions we hear from prospects. We decided to launch a blog as a way to address common questions and challenges we were hearing from prospects, by leveraging the expertise of our employees and creating content relevant to our target audience. But before we get into the specifics of the program, I want to talk about the benefits. The relevant, original content on our site promoted our position of authority for solving IT performance issues and helped guide prospects toward our sales funnel.
Comparing stats from January through June 2014 to those from January through June 2015, we’ve seen impressive year-over-year growth on our website, thanks in large part to the addition of the blog:
Total sessions grew by 171 percent;
Total users grew by 162 percent;
Total page views grew by 375 percent; and
Social referrals grew by 828 percent.
The best part for us is that the benefits keep coming.
6 Steps to launching a successful corporate blog Here are six steps for starting a blogging program that builds your authority among your target audiences:
Develop a backlog of content before you go live.
Work with your subject matter experts (SMEs) to build up a catalog of posts in the days or weeks ahead of the launch. This will give you some flexibility when you expect an SME to draft or review a post, but some higher priority crops up instead.
Stay consistent in voice and schedule.
Every writer has his or her own tone, and that’s a good thing. It shows off how diversely skilled your company is. However, the appearance of each post must be the same; inconsistency is something prospects and readers notice, and it can take away from the important information in a piece. This is especially true when you don’t regularly publish content. Develop and adhere to a schedule.
Write for people (not just search engines).
There’s no reason to invest time in a marketing strategy if it doesn’t deliver measurable results, and there are countless guides to blogging that start and end with search engine optimization (SEO). Writing content and designing a blog with SEO best practices in mind is important, but the content has to be created with humans in mind, too. Any article clearly designed for a quick SEO fix isn’t going to populate your sales funnel like a post that was clearly written to be read.
Be creative and evolve.
The same information presented in the same manner a couple times every week won’t keep people interested. As a blogging program gains traction, integrate new kinds of content from different authors and in different formats. Experiment with content curation, imagery and videos, infographics, SlideShares and more. Use your analytics to make decisions about parts of the strategy that aren’t worth keeping and place more emphasis on those that are performing well.
Know your audience.
Do some research – whether it’s conversations with your sales team or with analysts and other industry influencers – to make sure you know the problems your prospects face. Hit these points to demonstrate your company’s ability to solve problems. Once you get there, salespeople will find the content helps them nurture leads.
Prospects are careful with their spending, especially when it comes to solutions for their most critical IT applications. To win over your ideal customers, first, you need to show them that you understand their issues. A corporate blog can be an effective place to do that.
Distribute and promote your content.
Using content as part of Web marketing and lead generation strategies means you have to promote in ways that allow for organic discovery and consumption. Leverage different social platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, to deliver the content to relevant audiences. Customer and prospect email newsletters are also good opportunities to share the content and demonstrate authority.
Raj Patel is the senior director of corporate and field marketing for Virtual Instruments, a Metis Communications client. He has more than 15 years of experience in corporate sales and marketing roles.
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