It’s the question on everyone’s lips… Are blogs still relevant in 2019?
Is it worth spending time and money on your company blog in the day of social media?
In a nutshell: yes.
BUT…not if you’re doing any of the following things:
- Peddling company news (John, we’re happy you’ve been promoted to Sales VP, but keep it to your LinkedIn, mate).
- Churning out tediously planned SEO ‘content’ that reads like your repetitive friend after one beer too many.
- Blogging without promoting your content with all the trimmings (more on this later).
However, even companies who write and promote their blog posts are still asking if blogging is dead.
Here’s the thing. Blogging isn’t dead. It’s just reincarnated.
The Past Life of Blogging
Ten years ago saw the emergence of blogging as a mainstream corporate digital tactic. Before that, politics, travel, cooking and technology blogs were popping up all over the place, offering reliable sources of advice and niche information.
Of course, strategic-thinking marketers quickly caught on to the profit-yielding promise blogging held for companies.
It proved a powerful way to appear in search engines and in front of an already interested audience. Not only that, it was a super-effective way to share expert opinions and allow companies to show they knew what they were talking about.
Now, none of that has changed.
Blogging is as effective a marketing tool as ever. In fact, it’s supercharged.
A recent study by Data Box, “The Shift in Your Content Marketing Mix: 25 Marketers On What’s Changed in 2 Years” showed that 68% of marketers find blogging more effective than they did 2 years ago.
But, the internet is overrun with blogs! I hear you yell. How do I stand a chance?
The trick is, you have to adapt your approach.
Quality Over Quantity
Blogging is about building relationships. It’s about playing the long game.
Not convinced? Pay attention to the offline world.
Would you approach a customer at 9.30am on a Monday morning and just say: “buy my product”, then disappear?
Would you turn up at their desk at the same time next Monday morning at 9.30am and say “buy my product”, then disappear?
And this continues every week…you get the picture.
Annoying, right? (let alone weird)
However, if you spent time talking to that customer about topics they’re interested in. Topics that help them. Giving valuable advice. Then you’re positioning yourself as someone they rely on and trust.
The same logic and strategy applies to your blog. Take time to write your posts. Talk to your customers and build conversations.
The everyday consumer is smart and has a limited amount of time. They make informed choices, not only about what they want to buy, but what they want to read.
It’s only by offering your reader something truly valuable, that you’ll get the conversation started.
Your blog should always aim to answer the questions your audience has (No John, no one’s Googled ‘is John the new VP?’ Our blog post These 16 Blunders Will Butcher Your Content Strategy lists this as the most common but number one error).
How consumers find your content will undoubtedly evolve, but what they’re looking for probably won’t. We still need the same information we did 5 years ago, but we’re just using different methods to find it.
Creating high-quality, original content will go a long way to getting results from blogging.
Easy to Skim
When time is of the essence, you don’t want to read an essay to get to the info you need.
Fact. People have no time.
If you want to get your point across and keep readers engaged, make it easy for them.
Separate your content into well-thought-out headers and keep sentences short. Make sure the chunky paragraphs and prose-like musings are kept out of your blog.
Rule of thumb: limit to one thought per sentence to keep it digestible.
P.S. Lists are also a fantastic way of making your content more skimmable.
Make Sure Your Content is Unique
Remember how irritated you used to get when your Mum retold a story you told her as if she were there?
Don’t make that mistake with your customer.
The term ‘thought-leader’ is bandied around everywhere these days. Create content with your own spin, sharing your expertise and knowledge with the information-hungry world.
Unique content isn’t a nice to have, it’s a need to have.
But how do you come up with unique content?
Here’s a little quote from creative ad mastermind, David Ogilvy, to give you a hint:
“Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.”
My tip? Read, read, read. The more you absorb, the more you could open the line from your unconscious. Blogs, social media, fictional books…anything you can get your hands on.
Exhausted those avenues? Eavesdrop on conversations on the train. There’s always a train whiner talking about the issues they face at work or in their daily lives.
And for some more tangible tips on how to zig while your industry blogs are zagging, this post, “Is Your Blog a Golden Egg?” (by yours truly) will help.
Keep the Conversation Going
What gets me is when companies go to all the trouble of writing a super-valuable, well-written post that is actually getting the holy grail of interaction…and they don’t respond to comments.
Their audience is responding to their post. Asking questions. Commenting with their own experience.
And all they get in return is a nice, fat tumbleweed rolling past them.
Let’s take it offline again.
You spend a lengthy amount of time building a relationship with a customer. You can tell their interest is piqued by your awesome advice and insight.
They say: “I agree with you. In fact, can you tell me what you can do to help me?”
You stare past them over their shoulder, then turn on your heel and stroll away.
You get what I’m saying. R-U-D-E.
Just reply, people. It’s polite and keeps the conversation flowing all the way to a conversion.
Make it Easy to Subscribe
You need to make your blog easy for readers to subscribe to.
The answer? Collect emails.
Have a scroll-triggered opt-in box on your page, so readers, who are engaged and want your content to arrive straight into their inbox, can easily get that.
It’s a win-win tactic, that will help you nurture your audience and continue to build those all-important relationships.
For more in-depth advice on this, here’s a helpful article on the Optin Monster blog Scroll Triggered Boxes: 10 Hacks To Boost Your Conversions.
Link Like There’s No Tomorrow
Many companies get scared about linking out to other blogs.
In fact, they look at me in horror.
Why would I send readers away from my blog to another website?
There’s one key reason: it will give your readers even more valuable information. If another blog has in-depth information that will benefit your reader, linking to it will only make them view your blog in a good light.
And here’s an excellent excuse to link to ProBlogger’s handy article on link building, “6 Reasons to Link Away from your Blog”.
It can also help your blog gain credibility. Linking to external sources, studies and data will give weight to the topic you’re discussing.
Another plus point is that linking out to other bloggers can help you to build relationships in that industry, which is always helpful to have up your sleeve.
There’s power in numbers when it comes to content marketing, and influencer collaboration can turbocharge your efforts.
Intensify The Focus
Going deeper into your content will have many advantages. Not least the fact that you can expect your ranking in search engines to improve.
Digital marketer, Eric Enge, says: “We tracked the SEO performance of a number of different sites. The sites that provided exceptional depth in quality content coverage literally soared in rankings throughout the year. Sites that were weaker in their content depth suffered in comparison.”
So this brings a whole different meaning to ‘quality’, where you need to expand your topic leaving no stone unturned. And that’s where the SEO magic lies.
Keywords are obviously important, I’m not denying it. But if you focus on in-depth quality posts, you’re going to go a long way to making your blog successful.
Here’s how to go about that:
- Write long-form posts that give you the opportunity to explore a topic.
- Come at topics from many angles and points of view. Use the opportunity to show you understand both (or multiple) sides of the coin, not just your own.
- Write ‘Ultimate Guides’. Readers love ‘em, but they’re also a great way of forcing yourself to get down to the teeny details. In fact, here at The Creative Copywriter, we’ve done just that. Take a look at our Fluff-Free Guide to Content Strategy here if you need some inspiration.
Ask your customers – “what do you wish there was one single resource on, that you don’t currently have access to?”
Their answer will give you a pretty good indication of where to go next.
Final Thoughts … Are Blogs Still Relevant?
Marketing is an evolving entity. If I had a penny for every time a marketer has informed me with absolute certainty that ‘blogging is dead’, or ‘SEO is dead’, or ‘that’s the last we’ll see of Facebook’, I’d be sailing off into the sunset.
The truth is, we need to stop pronouncing flat-lines just because we don’t know how to adapt.
Konrad and The Creative Copywriter team x