This is a guest contribution from Zoe Uwem.
Blogging can be an effective lead generation strategy, if done correctly.
The majority of companies that hope to use content marketing to grow their businesses all understand that blogging is one of the most effective ways to go about it.
Big corporations, start-ups and even smaller companies are buying into it. Internet marketers, freelancers and agencies all use blogging as a means of generating qualified leads for their businesses.
Recent statistics show that B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not. In addition, marketers who give precedence to blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.
In another report published on the Huffington Post, members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) went from agreeing that blogging has great value to listing out 12 benefits of business blogging.
Whether you’re running a sole venture or managing a big corporation, a business blog can work for you in generating leads, even when you’re sleeping or while on vacation in Zurich. There’s no paying for ad space, no paying of affiliate commission, and no offline networking which obviously takes more time and resources.
Not only can a blog serve as an evangelism tool for generating leads for your business, you can also use it to creatively position yourself as an expert in your field.
What’s more, with a blog you can:
- Reach more customers through strategic content marketing
- Get the word out about your offering
- Boost company visibility or even ameliorate your brand image
- Target a global audience
- Expose your products and services
- Increase brand awareness
- Build loyalty
Blogging is also a great medium for encouraging customer interaction and enhancing engagement.
But, how do you make blogging work for your business? What are the things to do to bring all these benefits of blogging to bear on your business?
If you’d like to build a following for your brand, generate quality leads, and ultimately grow your business through blogging, here are 20 things you can do to pull that off successfully:
1. Start with a Plan
Business blogging, unlike regular blogging, is blogging with a purpose. You’re not blogging just for fun (or as a hobby) but, you’re blogging because there’s a particular goal you want to achieve—to generate leads and grow your business.
With that in mind, if you want to see results, then you need a solid plan in place.
A solid plan here implies setting SMART goals and devising doable strategies. It involves knowing what you want, who you want to attract (the kind of leads you want to generate), where you’re going and how you’ll get there.
Before even writing your first blog post, develop a blueprint with which you’ll meet your business blogging objectives.
There are a lot of factors that can affect your blog business plan, some of which include your target market, your niche, your business size and even your business goals.
So, when making a plan, remember to consider all of these in order to make your goals truly SMART.
Further Reading: Setting Blogging Goals: Why You Need Them, and How to Write Them
2. Blog from Your Business Website
For effectiveness, let your blog be an extension of your business website; this can be a subdomain or a subdirectory of your main business domain.
Blogging from a separate domain may not produce much results because most site visitors coming from traffic sources like search engines and social media will first land on your blog. It’ll take extra work to get them to go over to your business website where your products and services are displayed.
On the other hand, blogging from your business website helps drive traffic to your product/service page, convert the traffic into leads, and ultimately drive long-term results.
3. Develop a Blogging Culture
By blogging culture, I mean a set of strictly followed practices that are well-thought out and tailored to help you meet your blogging goals.
I love to call this kind of practice “systematized blogging” because it entails following a set system consistently to achieve results.
This involves practices such as following a publishing schedule, planning an editorial calendar, concentrating on the same topic and so on.
Developing your own blogging culture will help you remain focused and help you meet your blogging goals fast.
You might want to follow general rules and tips spread across the blogosphere, but it’s always better to come up with your own rules to see what works for you and what doesn’t, well because all businesses are not the same.
Further Reading: 3 Ways Scheduling Will Make You a Better Blogger
4. Think Long Term
Even though you can get near-quick results from business blogging, it’s vital that you don’t lose focus on the long-term aspect of things.
Can the content you’re creating today still show up in search results five years from now? Or, are you putting up a subnormal body of words that Google will kick out in five months’ time?
Truth is, it’s always better to create evergreen content. It’s always better to think long-term because that’s how to get results that are worth your effort, time and investment.
Evergreen content can drive steady traffic, generate consistent leads and produce regular conversion for a long time.
Create something that adds value, something that helps people, something that both humans and search engines love. This might even mean investing in great content (see our next point below).
Here are some quick do’s and don’ts of evergreen content by 60 Second Marketer:
Related: How to Write Great Blog Content
5. Invest in Killer Content that Provides Value and Truly Helps People
Running a blog is primarily about helping people, providing them with valuable information, and answering their questions.
To do this effectively, you need good content; content that provides value. More or less, the quality of your blog posts reflects the quality of leads you generate from your blog.
Successful content marketing now depends on the content quality. To get this right, let your focus be on providing value rather than on selling something.
There are a handful of ways you can provide value to readers. One of such is by helping them solve simple problems that are related to your industry.
For instance, if you operate a marketplace for developers to sell their apps, see about providing the developers (your target customers) with content that can help them improve on their app marketing skills; see about helping them make more money through their sales by offering them tips on how to market their products effectively.
Invest your time, money and resources in truly valuable content. I recommend you hire a professional writer if you don’t have the time or aptitude to create such content yourself.
6. Market your Blog Like it’s the Only Thing that Matters
That’s because the success of your blog (and that of your lead generation campaign) largely depends on how many people know that your blog exists in the first place.
You may have the best content ever, but if nobody knows that the content is there on your blog, of course nobody will go there to read it.
Imagine standing in front of an empty classroom to deliver the best lecture ever. You’d be wasting all that time talking your socks off, right? And worse, nobody is listening.
That’s a bummer and that’s the same way it is when you publish the best content on a virtually empty blog, traffic wise.
This does not rule out having truly quality content on your blog. While having quality content on your blog is vital, it’s even more vital that you get the right people to come to your blog, regularly.
The number of people who visit your blog can determine the number of leads you generate, but not necessarily the quality.
There’re a whole lot of ways you can market your blog, but you have to be tactical and invest your time smartly by focusing only on those strategies that are worth your time and resources.
It’s all about going for targeted traffic, driving them to your blog and getting them to become interested in what you have to offer. Period!
Further Reading: How to Find Readers For Your Blog
7. Practice “Diversified Blogging”
Just because written content is the most widely accepted type of content doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try out other types. Add some fuel to your blog with the help of images, videos, slideshares, infographics and the like.
Publishing diverse kinds of content broadens not only your audience, but also your reach because people will want to share your content on a variety of platforms other than on the traditional bookmarking sites.
Again, you may find that there might be people who prefer other forms of content to written content.
For instance, the chart below shows an increased demand for infographics:
8. Have a Solid Conversion Strategy
As leads begin to verge on your blog, don’t let your blogging effort be in vain by letting them go without purchasing from you or at least leaving their details.
Have a solid conversion channel set up on your blog, for converting ordinary visitors into regular visitors and then into loyal readers and ultimately to purchasing customers.
Some of the best ways to do this are:
- Strategically placing well-written calls to action on your blog and website
- Collecting visitors details through a well-configured email optin box.
- Using every opportunity you have to link to your sales page/landing page from your blog
- Systematically integrating your services into your blog articles
To make this even more effective, offer an incentive. It could be a free trial or a truly useful resource that can help them in any way.
Whatever it is, just ensure that it’s attractive enough to reel them in.
A reliable conversion strategy is the tipping point between an ordinary visitor becoming interested in what you sell.
Without a solid conversion strategy in place, your whole “blogging for leads” endeavor may not produce as much result as you’d expect, thus the importance of getting this step right.
9. Take Your Blog Seriously and Be Consistent
Want to generate serious leads from your blog without being serious? You can’t be serious!
It’s not all about setting up a blog and creating a solid business blogging plan, you’d have to sit up and be serious with your blog; you’d have to follow your plans and goals seriously in order to turn your blog into a lead-gen machine.
In my escapade as a professional freelance blog writer, I have come across dozens of abandoned business blogs. And, whenever I asked to know the reasons those blogs were abandoned, the blog owners, in general, would blame it on lack of time, no one to create content on a regular basis and all that excuses.
But the truth really is, those who abandon their blogs are not serious about blogging.
For a blog to produce results, you need to take it seriously.
Also, as one blogging to generate leads and attract clients, you have to be consistent, not just in your publishing frequency, but also in your blog topic.
You really shouldn’t be writing about catfish farming this week, and switching to writing about how you partied in an airplane last month.
Maintaining an considerable level of consistency not only show that you know what you’re doing but also show that you’re serious about it and so every other person should be serious with you, too.
No one will probably be serious and consistent in visiting and reading your blog if you aren’t serious and consistent with it yourself.
Further Reading: How to Get Serious About Blogging and Make It Work for Your Business
10. Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines
This is especially important if you’re looking to build a magnetic system that attracts leads to your business on auto-pilot.
One sure way to show up in search results is by regularly updating your blog with epic content. By continually publishing informative and actionable posts that are search engine optimized, your content will rank high on search engines thereby bringing more people to your website, which will ultimately earn you more leads, sales and revenue.
Statistics show that over 70% of buyers use search engines at the beginning of their purchase process.
Organic search traffic is of extreme importance. If you can build this system, then you will have a sort of always-on-duty marketing tool that’s available 24/7 to bring you quality leads.
11. Be Approachable, Helpful, and Friendly
Sometimes, it’s not all about providing great content. If you really want to create impact that can translate into leads and sales, you may have to condescend and relate with your audience at their level.
For instance, if a reader reaches out to you for help, maybe to ask a question, be kind enough to respond. I would even recommend you sometimes reach to some of them and bring them to the spotlight. This can be done by mentioning a reader in your post or even posting an intelligent question one of them might have asked and answering it there for the rest to benefit from.
One question to answer is, if one of your readers meets you sitting at McDonald’s, can they come up to you freely, without feeling fettered?
Be approachable; be sociable and you’ll find that you can gain more instead of being inimical.
12. Gather Feedback and Encourage Interaction
You want your business to be better than it was yesterday, right? You want to be able to provide your audience with exactly what they need, uh?
The best way to do that is to gather feedback, and there’s only one person that can provide you with genuine, practical feedback— your blog reader.
Continually improving on your approach, strategy and offering is important for remaining indispensable in the hearts of people, especially in today’s fast-changing world of advanced technology.
Gathering customer information and assimilating the same helps you to actually improve.
There are a number of ways through which you can gather customer information. For instance, you can conduct surveys, host live sessions, use in-product request forms, or even encourage them to send in their thoughts via email.
Beyond gathering feedback, you should also encourage interaction. One benefit of interacting with your audience is that it opens doors for opportunities and also gives you the chance to learn from them the things that really matter to them.
Interaction can be achieved through the comment sections of your blog and through social media.
13. Know Your Audience and Know What You’re Doing
Imagine blogging to generate leads without actually knowing the people that are following you. That’s not cool , right?
Successful business blogging demands that you not only know the people that are following you but actually care about them.
Do you care about your audience? (Or more honestly, how well do you care about them?) Do you care about the way they respond to your articles? Do you care about the kind of information you pass across to them?
Yet more, do you know their demography? Do you know what they want, where they hang out at (good for promoting your content), what they like, the keywords they use when searching for your kind of product/service, their preferred method of receiving information etc.?
Or, are you just blogging blindly?
Having at least an appreciable knowledge of your audience is vitally important for successfully blogging for leads.
Beyond knowing your audience, get to know your stuff; know what you’re doing. Analyze your blog often and make improvement where necessary.
14. Make Your Blog the Hub, But Don’t Be Self-Centered
Your blog should focus on helping your customers (both current and potential) solve problems related to your industry/product. But unfortunately, too many business blogs have been turned into some kind of repository for press releases, company news, and other natters.
News about your company may be interesting to you and your team, but it’s not what will ultimately exert a pull on leads and keep them engaged.
Posting what they care about should be primary. Making announcements can come in second.
However, when it comes to publishing your company news, make your blog the hub.
For instance, if you have any announcement to make, don’t go over to Twitter and rant about it without first talking about it on your blog.
The information should actually emanate from your blog to other sources and not the other way round.
This forces people to visit your blog, encourages link-building which further promotes your blog.
15. Promote Your Product/Service
While sharing helpful and interesting information with your readers, remember the purpose of doing that—to generate leads.
So, in the midst of the valuable information you’re giving out, also strategically promote your business.
You can do this by:
- Tactically integrating your services/product in some helpful blog posts
- Displaying some of your important web pages prominently on your blog
- Linking to your product page or landing page from epic blog posts that receive massive traffic
- Advertising your services, products, events etc., on your blog sidebar
- Regularly sending well-crafted marketing emails to your blog subscribers, or by at least remembering to end every email you send with a signature showing your name and company.
Promoting your product/service doesn’t mean asking for the sale, but mildly and continuously keeping your offering in front of people who may likely buy them.
16. Be Professional, But Add a Bit of Personality
It’s important to keep your blog professional, but did you know that readers are equally interested in knowing you as a person?
Don’t be that faceless, robot-like being behind the computer that’s always posting. You have a name, right? So why keep the default “Admin” as the publisher? Maybe a picture of you and your team will do over on a well-written Team Members page.
I know you’ve got awesomely actionable tips but, blog posts with a sense of personal touch tend to do great as well. So, once in a while share a little beautiful story about yourself to inspire and endear your readers to you. That way, they’re likely going to buy from you or at least become loyal visitors which is all good.
Emotional stories work pretty well at this. The charts will help you choose the right emotions to target:
And another one:
17. Establish and Portray Yourself as an Authority
That’s because without being or presenting yourself as an expert, nobody may really listen to what you have to say.
Except your mom. And maybe your cat, too.
So, get your skates on, do epic content, talk like you invented that niche, guest blog on some top sites, get interviewed and they’ll listen to you.
Why is it important that people listen to you? Well, it’s because you can only get their attention when they’re listening, and getting their attention is essential for conversion.
Good news is, with a blog, you can set yourself apart, establish & portray yourself as an expert, and grab people’s attention through authoritative posts.
18. Encourage Your Readers to Share your Content
You don’t have to do the work alone; this is why you have to create viral content and have social sharing buttons on every blog post you publish.
When your readers share your content, other people in their network will see the content and head over to your blog, resulting in increased reach and more leads.
To get readers to share your content, create content that resonate with them, kit out your blog with easy-to-use social sharing buttons, lead the way by sharing first, and openly ask them to share the content if they love it.
Related: 10 Quick Tips for Going Viral
19. Demonstrate Positive Results of Your Product/Service
Use your blog as a medium to demonstrate how remarkably awesome and result-oriented your product and/or service is.
This will egg people on to purchase from you.
You can do this by quickly sharing, in a blog post, a success story of how your product helped a person solve a problem. Case study articles are good for this, too.
Even more, you can interview some of your clients and publish the interview on your blog. You can also invite some of them to share their positive experience through guest posting.
People are more likely to buy from you when they see the positive results your product is producing.
20. Remember to Sell
A lot of businesses that blog to attract customers may end up selling nothing, not because the visitors were never interested in buying from them but because they never sold.
Unlike promoting your product/service mildly but continuously, here, you’re bold to ask for the deal. This shouldn’t be done every time but once in a while, lest you bug your readers.
Running a blog for your business holds many benefits especially when following business blogging best practices and the right steps to successful content marketing– developing your goals, building your audience, publishing creative content and so on.
Beyond generating leads, you can nurture those leads and eventually convert them into buying customers.
This list of business blogging best practices is far from exhaustive, but if you’d be diligent enough to apply them, you’d be on your way to generating quality leads with a business blog.
Zoe Uwem is an entrepreneur, a successful freelance blog writer, copywriter, and a content marketing expert who is passionate about helping businesses generate quality leads, reach more customers and make more sales. Zoe writes for and helps companies spread the word about their businesses. You can hire him to write for you, too. Find Zoe on his website, ZoeUwem.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.