Start Googling marketing trends and it’s hard not to bump into some impressive stats on the power of the blog. B2B marketers who blog get 67% more leads. Sites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages. More than half of all marketers put blogs at the top of their content marketing lists.
But does this necessarily mean all blogs are created equal? What separates the good from the great?
1. Clear focus
Readers look to blogs for insight, whether they want a few quick best practices for something or deeper perspective on an issue, product or solution. The most effective blogs explore a single subject, presenting the key points clearly.
2. Fast-reading structure
Blogs may be casual in style but need to be sharp when it comes to information flow. Few readers have the time or patience for classic “beginning-middle-end” storytelling. The journalistic inverted pyramid, which starts with the most important takeaway and works down to the least, is standard best practice for all web writing, blogs included.
3. Engaging format
The format of a blog should support its purpose. “Top 10s”, “5 Key Things” and other list formats are good for at-a-glance information-sharing (36% of readers prefer such number-based headlines). Q&A-style interviews are excellent for conveying personality if a blog’s subject is a person. To highlight thought leadership, “op-ed”-style blogs provide the opportunity to explore a given topic in depth. In a corporate blog, it’s useful to mix different formats for variety and to keep readers interested.
4. Personality and brand
Engage readers. Think of each blog as a one-to-one conversation about a topic. That said, remember that corporate blog posts should also reflect the company brand. Avoid overusing contractions and slang unless they are part of your brand voice. Write in a way that is confident and credible and demonstrates thought leadership.
5. Digestible length
Write to the length that content demands, in line with reader expectations. The highest-ranked content in Google runs between 1,110 and 1,200 words, which is a good target for blogs of depth. But with 43% of readers inclined to skim, the more concise and focused a blog can be, the more it will be absorbed by the audience. A length of 400 to 600 words will often do the trick of delivering good information on a focused topic, especially as many readers will be reading on a mobile device. A good strategy is to plan out a blog program in advance, so larger topics can be broken out across a series of posts. This leaves readers wanting more and likelier to come back.
6. Real substance
Surveys have found that blogs rank in the top five trusted sources of accurate online information. To make sure your blog lives up to that trust, make sure you have something meaningful to say. Blogs that are written purely to tick a box on a to-do list or generate SEO are less likely to contribute to meaningful conversions: they might draw readers but don’t necessarily lead them to a next step. Given that nearly half (47%) of buyers read three to five pieces of content before engaging with sales, that next step matters. Strike a good balance between pontificating and substantiating. Support key points and tips with facts and anecdotes.
7. A planned approach
Good planning is one of the best ways to ensure a corporate blog engages readers, supports marketing objectives and drives prospects along the buyer’s journey. Mapping out the corporate story in advance creates more opportunity to make choices about how to serve up content over time in a way that builds momentum. It also provides the mental space to ensure best practices are applied effectively.
Applying these principles will help ensure you get the strongest possible results from your blog program.