How to Grow a Blog

blogThis is the 36th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

If we are following an inbound content strategy, blog posts are a staple used to impact SEO with the right keywords and drive traffic to our content. Getting a blog off the ground for a startup is a necessity to convert targets to leads, so let’s breakdown a simple set of steps to get started:

1. Build the infrastructure

Maintaining a blog requires a content management system, like WordPress. If we are using a marketing automation system, like Hubspot, it has built in blogging capabilities. It is best to use that because it tightly integrates with the analytics, landing pages and CTA functionality.

Some blog systems have templates, and others may require us to code HTML, CSS and sometimes proprietary content management language from scratch to customize the blog the way we want. Designing a blog is a big project, similar to developing our website. We should plan to have a web developer be working on it for up to 6 weeks to include time for A/B testing different concepts.

2. Use your story to identify topics

Once the blog infrastructure is in place, it’s time to brainstorm topics. These topics should be derived from the company’s messaging and positioning story. Often, the blog repeats similar topics in different forms and from different angles to get the message across.

3. Start at the top of funnel

Consider blog posts that are broad and align well with what our target persona is searching for online. For example, for my team that sells mobile apps for gyms, we write many blog posts about broader topics like gym technology, gym marketing and general tips for gym operators. This is the stuff that our targets are searching for, and what will land them on our website.

In the early days, these are also fairly easy topics to write about, and will enable the team to crank out an initial bulk of blog posts to use.

4. Define a strategy

There is a constant tradeoff between quality and quantity of blog posts. Depending on the market landscape our startup is in, both strategies can make sense. If we need to cover the marketplace with our message to establish ourselves, churning out a large quantity of posts that will appeal to different segments of our target persona makes sense.

On the other hand, if we want to develop specific thought-leadership in our space, then a smaller number of highly researched posts are more appropriate. Either way, it’s important to define the strategy up front.

5. Develop a candance

Blog posts should follow a regular cadence. That may be daily, every other day, or twice per week. It’s important that we write posts in advance to ensure we have enough content to meet our cadence. If we have the resources, publishing a post daily is great. More realistically, getting something online 2-3 times per week is a strong start.

6. Integrate blog into the content schedule

As we are creating premium content to feed the inbound strategy (ebooks, PDF guides, infographics, etc), blog posts should serve to highlight and promote those assets. We may take an ebook and carve each chapter into a blog post. The goal is to distribute the content in many different mediums. Some targets may download the entire ebook, while others may absorb it slowly from blog posts.

7. Have a clear CTA for conversion

Since most B2B blogs are designed to convert targets to leads by capturing their contact information, we need a strong call to action (CTA) at the bottom of each post. The CTA should be highly relevant to the blog post. For example, if my team writes a blog post about how gym operators can use wearables in their clubs, the CTA might be for an ebook titled “The Ultimate Guide to Wearables.”

Consider CTA buttons that are graphical in nature and have clever messaging:

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 5.01.25 PM

8. Measure readership and CTA clicks

As we build up a cadence of blog posts, we’ll start to have data that can be analyzed to benchmark our posts and identify which topics and styles resonate the most with our readership. We may find that posts geared towards specific topics get the most traffic, or small tweaks like title or opening paragraph make a big difference. Since we are posting so frequently, we have many opportunities to test and optimize the blog.

Next Steps

Starting a blog is a lot of work. This post outlines the high level overview of how to get started and a general approach to take. Consider researching competitor’s blogs in your space to see what may or may not be working for your target demographic.

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