It’s official. I no longer need to explain to B2B marketers why a blog is an absolute must have. If you're a B2B marketer then chances are good you can already recite the many reasons why a blog makes sense: SEO, content marketing, fuel for social media, etc. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Hubspot and the Content Marketing Institute, I can eliminate “blog evangelist” from my job requirements.
So all is good in the land of B2B blogging, right? Far from it. Beyond the typical questions I get (e.g., what to write about and how often to post) a larger question is emerging:
How do we generate more traffic for our company blog?
In the past week alone I heard from three senior marketers about how their teams are consistently kicking out quality posts but blog visitors are few and far between.
What makes the question of blog traffic so insidious is that smart B2B marketers are asking it -- those who have done the basics: hired writers, gotten organizational support, built editorial calendars, started penning posts with the reader in mind (okay, this one remains a struggle) and placing relevant call-to-actions in each post.
Why is this question such a big deal? Because no visitors means no readers, which means no one clicking those call-to-action links. Say goodbye to the promise of lead flow. Pretty quickly the result will be that (already limited) blog resources are siphoned off to support trade shows or the next marketing initiative that comes along.
What’s the answer to generating more blog visits?
Writing more posts seems to be the new clarion call (with the disclaimer that it still needs to be quality content) since you can only break through the tsunami of content your prospects are drowning in by pouring on more of your own, right? While there's some truth to this, not all companies have the budget to hire dedicated content creation teams like the folks at Salesforce, Marketo and Hubspot.
What's a content marketer to do? Here are 11 ways that companies of any size can use to drive much more traffic to their blog.
1. Start with SEO
I know you've got an SEO keyword list in someone’s Dropbox folder -- you may even have an agency helping out to hone and manage the list. Just make sure whoever is responsible for writing blog posts has access to it and is referencing the list for headlines, section titles, links, etc.
2. Enable Social Sharing
Are you making it easy for blog visitors to share posts on social media? Are social sharing widgets prominently placed and easy to find? And don’t forget to offer the option to share on LinkedIn and Google plus. Include the sharing widgets on the blog summary page too, since many folks share based on headlines -- even if they don’t end up reading the full post.
3. Write From Your Prospects’ Perspective
This one continues to be a struggle for B2B marketers. Here’s an easy way to think about it: write your blog posts from your target reader’s perspective (what helps them?) and write the call-to-actions with your company in mind (what helps you?). Making blog posts about prospects “pain” will keep them reading, and make them more likely to share with their social networks.
4. Focus on Getting Blog Subscribers
Over time, your most reliable source of traffic will be those that signed up to receive blog updates via email. Yes, email still trumps social media when it comes to driving visitors. So make email subscription your main call to action for the blog. Why not go further and set up a “light-box” to prompt blog visitors that linger on the page for more than 20-30 seconds to subscribe?
5. Leverage Social Media Channels
Your team has taken the time to build out a decent following on social media, so go ahead and use it. Share your company posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. And don’t think one-time. Instead, create a series of status updates and tweets for every blog post (think: three to five) and promote daily for the next week or so. This is where tools like Buffer come in.
6. Promote Your Blog on Your Homepage
Don’t treat your blog as the ugly stepchild and make it hard for people to find. Instead, it should be prominently listed and easily accessible from the main website navigation. Also consider highlighting the latest posts within a featured blog posts section of the homepage.
7. Make Blog Posts a Key Component of Email Marketing Efforts
Are you including your latest blog posts in your email marketing to customers, prospects and channel partners? If you haven’t been, now’s the time to start.
8. Promote in Relevant Communities and Forums
LinkedIn groups are a great place to showcase your thought-leadership posts. And most industries also have other communities and forums that reach your target audience. Make sure and share your latest blog posts in groups and communities that your prospects participate in. Having said that, just keep in mind the guidelines of any group on how best to share your blog posts.
9. Get Bylines and Do Guest Posts
While this is one is less about generating blog traffic, it’s still very much about getting your company’s blog posts read. In particular, those posts especially fine-tuned to help address the pains of your prospects. Industry publications and blogs that already reach your target audience are a great place to get a monthly byline or submit guest posts. Tip: run your post in the industry publication and then, a couple days later, drop it into your company blog.
10. Invite Your Employees to Share
I’m a big fan of employee advocacy. If your company is writing quality blog posts then why wouldn’t employees want to read and share them on Twitter and LinkedIn? Just imagine if you could get even 10 percent of your workforce to help promote your company blog. That could generate lots of traffic, right?
11. Post More Often if You Can
Not every blog post has to be about thought-leadership. For example, do a weekly roundup of industry news and other topics you found interesting and shared on Twitter. Also leverage your other content marketing and media campaigns for posts. You know, write blog posts about an upcoming webinar, latest white paper and company news. Just remember that every blog post should be written with “why readers should care” in mind. Don’t be surprised if you can generate three to five posts a week, or maybe even more!
That’s our list, what’s yours? Any others you’d recommend or find work best?
Editor's Note: Read more of Carter's thoughts on employee advocacy in Is Employee Advocacy the Next Big Thing for Marketers?