A well-run blog provides continuous opportunities to establish your brand’s credibility as an industry expert in the eyes of customers and prospects. It also plays a key role in many B2B companies’ multi-channel marketing strategy aimed at supporting the customer journey from visitor to lead to closed sale. That’s because blogs can be an ever-changing source of fresh content that helps establish thought leadership, drive website traffic and improve organic search engine rankings, to name just a few of the benefits.
Yet despite the proven benefits, many B2B companies fail to fully resource their blogs, or they abandon them mere months after starting them. If your company is still struggling to get a blog off the ground, here are seven of the most common mistakes you should consider fixing:
Lack of frequency
One of the first mistakes most B2B companies make is not blogging with enough frequency. Many companies start their blogs with the best of intentions. Most end up failing to establish the proper internal expectations and accountability needed to stay on a consistent schedule. That’s unfortunate. According to research from Hubspot, B2B companies that blog 16 times or more monthly will see as much as 3.5x traffic compared to companies that blog only occasionally.
No editorial calendar
Many blogs that fail to take off usually lack an editorial calendar, which helps the marketing team focus its efforts. An editorial calendar is a key management tool that provides the marketing team a framework to help them brainstorm ideas for posts, establish publication deadlines and delegate writing assignments. Without an editorial calendar, marketing teams will lack the discipline and accountability needed to fulfill the demands of a high-frequency blog.
Poorly defined brand voice
One of the chief mistakes made by brand bloggers is that they forget to either define the official brand ‘voice’ or simply forget to adhere to it as they create content for the blog. A brand blog should be in synch with the overall brand identity, both in terms of the actual content it posts and the tone of voice/personality used. Failing to do so can leave the prospects you are attempting to move through the sales funnel confused and uncertain about what your company truly represents. What’s more, blogs may not actually be a prospect’s first touch with a brand so failure to remain consistent with other brand marketing assets like white papers, social posts and website copy could result in a lost lead.
Unknown buyer personas
Who are you selling to? What are their particular demographics? Are they executives in the C-suite capable of spending millions or line managers in charge of day-to-day tasks with a definite need and modest budget? The truth is if you are in a B2B company you usually have multiple buyer personas in a sales cycle. Leads rarely start from the top-down. More often than not they start with somebody like a manager who is experiencing a business pain directly and ends up doing the initial research in hopes of finding a solution. That same manager may end up being the actual lead you identify in your sales funnel or it may be somebody higher up in the organization. Executives of prospects may look to your blog for reassurances that your company is indeed expert at solving a particular problem before pulling the trigger on the purchase.
Bottom-line: You have to properly identify which buyer personas are involved in your sales cycle in order to produce content that draws in and engages the right audience of influencers and decision-makers.
Calls-to-action are an essential part of a successful blog. Why? Because the purpose of driving traffic to your blog is to surface and capture qualified leads. A CTA need not be an actual offer for service or a promotional discount. In fact, most inbound marketing experts will tell you that promotional offers tend to backfire and turn off would be customers. Better to include CTAs for additional information like white papers, eBooks and webinars, all of which will help move leads further down the sales funnel until they are ready to make a purchase. Another CTA of sorts is a contact capture add-on to your website (we use Optin Monster), which automatically asks visitors if they would like to be added to your e-newsletter or some other drip marketing campaign.
Lack of cross-channel promotion
B2B sales cycles vary greatly depending upon a variety of factors, not the least of which is the purchase price. The more expensive your product or service the more likely it will have been researched, vetted by internal staff and kicked up the corporate ladder for approval over a period of 1-12 months. B2B marketing managers sometimes forget to link initiatives from other marketing campaigns — attendance at a trade show or an executive speaking at a conference — to the blog and thus miss out on opportunities to push the content systematically across multiple channels. Social media — paid and organic — can and should support content CTAs that are baked into the editorial calendar.
Failure to analyze
In the immortal words of Aristotle, the “unexamined blog is not worth living.” Okay, maybe the famous Greek philosopher didn’t say blog but I’m pretty sure he would agree that failing to properly analyze your blog traffic and user patterns is a missed opportunity.
Google Analytics is easy to install and use to determine the effectiveness of your blog. If a post gets a lot of hits from visitors but they immediately fall off after 15 seconds on your site then you know the post failed to hook the visitors and get them to move further into the site. If inbound visitors from a small online publication where you published a copy of your blog post drives a handful of visitors but they end up staying on the site over 5 minutes and pass through 5-6 additional web pages then you know you have done something right in terms of engagement.
Other tools than just Analytics exist (e.g., Hubspot) to help SMBs analyze the success or failure of posts. The key is to make analysis part of running the blog and document the results so that you can find trends in content, sources of inbound traffic, and the most popular pages on your site. Only then can you get smart and really hone your message to drive more lead capture and customer conversions.