Content is essential to educating potential customers about your startup, and when developed properly, content is one of the least expensive ways of growing your business.
While word of mouth recommendations from friends and family, referred to as “earned advertising,” remains the most influential source in forming individual’s opinions, trust in “online” has jumped since 2007 when it was the 4th most influential source. Today “online” content ranks second, only to friends and family. Therefore, a strong online presence is critical to making your product or service known. Don’t presume that a blog is merely for providing updates about your business; exploring your industry, trends, tips, and providing value, is the simplest and most effective way to develop that online presence.
Why Blogging Matters
|The news is no longer provided and controlled by a limited number of professionals in the news industry. The news is written by professionals and thought leaders in a myriad of fields, with varying perspectives. The most important value to embrace in content marketing is that developing news in such a manner becomes a two-way street. Blogs allow audiences to interact, question, and build relationships with news sources instead of simply absorbing and accepting news. News becomes a discussion instead of a message.|
Your unique perspective about your business is important to your potential customers and whether you write a perspective once a week or once a month, more important than frequency is participation. Providing your opinion on the latest events and developments in your industry shows customers that you’re involved and deserve their business.
Tips to Create an Effective Blog
Content is aimed at serving two of three goals. The first is to promote your products and services, and the second is to draw traffic to your site either by acting as “link”, “viral,” or “keyword bait.” Deciding which of these you’re aiming for with your blog will help you decide how to write.
Bait: Are you Building Links or Creating Awareness?
Link bait is the creation of content likely to attract links for your domain. When creating link bait, the goal is to develop content that will be referenced by others. Consider covering facts, educational articles, and guides. When people provide links to your domain from their content, they are pointing their viewers in your direction. Just as you’re more likely to trust a stranger if introduced by a friend, first-time viewers will be more likely to visit your site if your link is provided by someone they already trust.
Keyword bait is content containing key words contextually related to your business. Explore industry trends, tools, or current events for which people are seeking information. Often, new business isn’t searching for your company so using the related words helps your site appear when they search for something ancillary to your product or business. Using keyword bait, your goal isn’t to become a thought leader so much as to make your content appear when someone is searching for something similar.
Generally, and particularly when writing for link bait and keyword bait, avoid writing strictly about your product. Your goal in content market is to reach new readers and potential customers; the great majority of those aren’t interested in your latest product or service. Relating to your product or businesses when providing examples is a great way to showcase your company, but writing specifically about your businesses will make your content less likely to be shared. For example, writing a how-to post about the latest software and providing examples from one of your projects is a great way to become a thought leader and spread the name of your business without being too direct.
How best might you think about the role of content that doesn’t directly promote your business? Consider viral bait. Viral bait is content most likely to be shared. Topics that are controversial, engaging, or concise are frequently shared via social media and covering such topics fosters online word of mouth that spreads like fire. But this form of content presents a key consideration of content marketing: merely writing the blog posts won’t result in readers; content must be accessible to potential readers through search engines and social networks. A tree that falls in the forest does make a noise, but if there isn’t anyone around to hear it, it goes unheard. Must founders are dissatisfied with the value of creating content as they fail to close the loop that the content they create is only as good as the audience on social networks and search engines that find it.
But I just want customers
Building links, creating awareness, and garnering retweets? I want customers!
The magic of online content lies in synergy. Online, 1 plus 1 truly equals 3. Unlike an ad on a billboard, which can only be read by drivers on the freeway, blog posts are the foundation of marketing activities that build upon one another. Critical, but challenging, is to not value your content creation on net new customers but value created for the business over time. Great content is indexed by Google, shared, and referenced, resulting in awareness, fans and followers on social media, and links which appreciate the equity in your website’s domain (URL). All of which, in turn, increases your footprint online such that when someone is seeking your product or service, you’re more likely to be considered. Further, your content might spark ideas for traditional reporters or attract the attention of a potential partner or investor.
Start by Writing for Search Engines
Separate content in a blog post with headers, as we’ve done here. While it breaks up the content and makes it easier for readers to read, search engines treat keywords used in headers with more weight than if the same keywords were in the middle of paragraphs. This same principle applies to bold and italicized phrases which encourage Google to feature your content more prominently on such searches. Don’t overload your posts with headers, italics, and bold phrases; first and foremost, create great content, but keep in mind that great content can be synonymous with what people are searching for.
Include images, as not only do pictures visually enhance your blog, images are indexed by search engine’s image search engines and “meta data” (text associated with the images) provide those engines with more context about the nature of your content.
Most importantly, encourage discussion of your content, whether in the comments of your post, via retweet, or in a discussion on Facebook or LinkedIn. Encouraging audience participation increases your reach by getting readers more involved and encouraging their audiences to join the conversation.
No two entrepreneurs have the same perspective on an industry, event, or best practice, which is what makes it valuable for each entrepreneur to make their viewpoints known. Hosting and participating in online discussion allows the sharing, critiquing, and perfecting of ideas. That participation is the word of mouth that is second only to a direct referral to your business. The longer you wait to start your blog, the more opportunities you miss to interact with potential customers.