How to Incorporate a Blog into Your Content Marketing Campaign
HOW TO INCORPORATE A BLOG INTO YOUR CONTENT MARKETING CAMPAIGN
To blog or not to blog? That is the question businesses often ask themselves. The answer to that question depends on the purpose of the blog.
For ordinary individuals, a blog is a means of communicating their ideas to the world. But for businesses, a blog can be a powerful weapon in their content marketing arsenal.
In this article, we will explore how blogs can become an effective part of a business’ content marketing strategy. We will also discuss how any brand can implement a blog as part of its overall marketing activity.
Using a Blog as Part of a Content Marketing Campaign
An effective marketing approach seeks to position a brand’s image in its consumers’ minds, therefore becoming the go-to reference for specific products and services.
This consideration suggests that consumers will automatically choose a specific brand over others based on their value assessment. Therefore, consumer perception of a brand’s value is the most effective means of positioning it.
Through content marketing, companies endeavor to provide value to consumers without sacrificing the brand’s overall proposition.
While opting to give away free product samples, running special offers, or discounting products can help the consumer become acquainted with a company’s product, they cannot effectively position a brand’s value proposition due to their sporadic use. Consequently, brands require a consistent and cost-effective approach without sacrificing their value proposition.
Brands must instead show consumers their products’ values by showcasing their usefulness in solving specific pain points. These pain points encompass consumers’ needs that require a specific solution. The challenge is for companies to show the consumers how their brand’s products and services can provide those solutions.
But how is it done?
Through a concerted content marketing approach, businesses must provide valuable information that consumers can use for their benefit. Often, this information is “free” to consumers. Thus, content marketing can deliver value consistently.
This “free” value is where blogs can significantly contribute to an effective content marketing campaign.
Blogs are a predominantly text-based medium. While blogs may include images, sound, and video, their true value resides in useful text. Blogs can tackle specific issues in a long format. As such, blog posts can be as long or short as marketers need them to be.
Editor and publisher Tom Foremski offers this insight into the nature of blogs: “Blogging is a communication mechanism handed to us by the long tail of the internet.” Indeed, blogging intends to serve as a means of communication. Therefore, content marketers must look at blogging as an ongoing conversation between brands and customers.
Generally speaking, blogs are a one-sided conversation. Unlike social media, blogs do not usually afford readers the opportunity for a two-way exchange. Nevertheless, blogs allow brands to communicate with consumers outside of traditional media outlets.
Moreover, blogs provide a cost-effective vehicle to communicate as much content as necessary, allowing brands to break down a large message into smaller, more manageable chunks. This approach gives consumers a chance to come back regularly.
When deciding to start a blog campaign, companies must begin by coming up with a blogging strategy. This strategy should include the purpose for the blog, as well as the theme and topics that the blog will address.
Pinpointing Your Blog’s Purpose
The biggest misconception most marketers hold is assuming that a blog means an abundance of writing. Thus, this misconception frequently leads to writing for the sake of writing.
While it is certainly true that blogs require content, more does not always equate to better. A blog must strike the right balance between the amount and quality of content.
The most significant consideration in a blogging strategy is to determine its purpose. Hence, marketers must ask themselves what the purpose of their blog is.
For instance, will the blog fill a purely advertising role? Will the blog strive to be informative? Also, will the blog serve to educate consumers on a specific topic? The answer to these questions will determine the blog’s overall scope.
In general, a blog should play an informational role. This role entails providing consumers with content they can use to solve a perceived problem.
For example, consumers looking to save money can turn to a blog to find helpful suggestions. Ultimately, the blog’s scope is to create awareness on saving money. In doing so, the brand can attract attention to its financial advisory services.
Also, a blog’s content must reflect its intended audience and support that audience through the value it provides. Consequently, a blog ought to share the vision and passion of its audience.
A fashion blog, for example, should attempt to capitalize on its audience’s love for specific items. The brand uses the blog to convey meaningful content that resonates with like-minded individuals.
Deciding on a Theme for Your Blog Campaign
A critical decision content marketing teams must deal with pertains to topics and themes for their blog.
On the whole, all blogs must have an overarching theme. As such, a blog must build an identity that can hit home with followers. This identity needs to be indicative of the brand’s ideal consumer. As a result, all content should fall within the blog’s thematic umbrella.
While the particular topic could vary, they ought to remain within the blog’s overall scope.
Renowned online marketer Neil Patel has this to say about blogging: “If you want to continually grow your blog, you need to learn to blog on a consistent basis.” Certainly, this approach is highly useful.
Successful blogs post content consistently. Doing so creates an expectation in followers’ minds, as the followers become attached to the blog’s content. Ultimately, making consistency synonymous with the brand’s identity boosts its positioning.
International film star David Aston offers this highly insightful tidbit: “Successful blogging is not about one-time hits. It’s about building a loyal following over time.” This insight underscores the importance of patience.
All successful blogging strategies must have a long-term vision. By delivering consistent value, blogs can build a loyal following reader by reader.
Selecting Appropriate Blog Topics
The most complex part of any blogging strategy is selecting appropriate topics. Choosing topics begins with the blog’s overarching theme. Naturally, a blog’s theme needs to reflect the brand’s identity and value proposition directly.
Particular post topics can subsequently focus on specific areas of interest.
In addition, individual topics can address consumers’ queries. A common practice asks consumers to submit queries and comments. This approach creates a two-way interaction between brands and consumers. Therefore, consumers themselves become a source of the material.
The relationship between theme and topics must also closely align with the target audience. Thus, it is necessary to define the target audience precisely.
Age, gender, and socioeconomic status all determine consumer profiles. From there, the alignment between theme and topic must coincide with those profiles.
For instance, a sporting equipment brand aimed at young males should deliver relevant information on topics of interest. These topics may include equipment maintenance, storage, or durability. The brand could then state how its products can alleviate the issues consumers face.
Matt Wolfe, the creator of the WordPress Classroom site, sheds light on successful topics: “There’s a lot of information out there for free, so you’ve got to figure out what makes your information different.”
Wolfe’s comments accentuate the need for a unique value proposition. Given the immense amount of information online, a unique approach is paramount to ensuring success.
The most practical means of producing relevant topics is through customization. Customization involves developing a keen understanding of consumers so that content creators know what consumers want.
A good rule of thumb consists of simply asking consumers what they want to know. Undoubtedly, audiences will let their favorite brands know what they want.
Clever marketers openly acknowledge follower questions and comments. This practice allows followers to spot how significant they are to the brand. In turn, brands must reward their followers’ loyalty by incentivizing their participation. Often, followers only seek attention. Thus, brands must take full advantage of their followers’ willingness to participate.
Lastly, a great call to action on every blog post is to ask consumers to comment. By encouraging the consumer to comment, brands openly foster active participation.
Instead of spending resources on costly surveys, brands can harvest comments for future blog posts. This practice creates a positive feedback loop that keeps consumers coming back.
Renowned blogger David Calacanis once said, “The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.” Brands can create that trust by acknowledging their consumers’ needs at all times.
Building trust requires brands to keep their content authentic. Therefore, generic information will not suffice. Effective content must become as specific as possible. That type of authenticity will help position a brand in its consumers’ minds.
Getting Started with a Blogging Campaign
Starting a blogging campaign calls for three essential items.
First, a blog must fit within the brand’s overall content marketing efforts. A blog should represent another weapon in a brand’s content marketing arsenal.
A blog can make a great addition to social media, video, and even conventional advertising, filling a gap not previously addressed. For consumers who prefer long format reading materials, the addition of blogs can prove to be incredibly valuable.
Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo once remarked:
“The Internet destroyed most of the barriers to publication. The cost of being a publisher dropped to almost zero with two interesting immediate results: anybody can publish, and more importantly, you can publish whatever you want.”
The lack of barriers to publishing suggests that brands have unlimited possibilities to reach their target audience. Therefore, a blog is another publishing platform like any other.
The major difference lies in the lack of restriction. As a result, brands can personally engage their followers. This type of engagement is extremely difficult to achieve through traditional means.
Second, the brand must establish the blog’s purpose. This crucial decision hinges on choosing between a purely promotional or informational platform.
Blog marketing expert David Risley states, “Blogging is not a business by itself. It is only a promotional platform.” This statement showcases that blogging is a tool within a brand’s overall marketing scheme.
A blog with a promotional purpose delivers useful information while featuring the brand’s products. The products need to factor into the solution the consumer needs. Otherwise, the blog would revert into a shameless promotional plug piece.
An informational blog does not openly endorse the brand’s products. Like a promotional blog, it provides actionable information. However, the content intends to serve customers rather than pitch products.
Once the blog has a purpose, the last step is to define its content strategy. Topics comprise content strategy. As such, content creators must carefully address their consumers’ needs and interests. Initially, content creators can produce cross-cutting content. From there, consumer feedback can serve to define future topics.
Writer and entrepreneur Brian Clark offers this advice: “Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.” This advice points to the need for consumer-focused content.
As such, great writing can miss the mark if it is not relevant to followers. In contrast, great blogs resonate with their readers on a personal level. This degree of communication is possible when the content is tailored specifically for the target audience.
Last, a successful blog does not emerge from a mathematical formula. Many times, building an effective blog is a question of trial and error. Thus, content creators must learn to recognize what works and what does not. Eventually, a winning game plan will lead to delivering consistent value.
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