Three Tips For a BangUp Blog

Looking to get the most bang for your blog?

Follow the three-step playbook created by Anum Hussain, a growth marketer for HubSpot's inbound sales division, created after staring down the daunting challenge of creating a new blog HubSpot’s sales acceleration product, Sidekick. 

It's not enough just to have a blog, she said, you've got to create the right one.

An experienced blogger Hussain said she initially balked at the Sidekick task, because after all, it’s very different to start a blog from scratch than it is to run an existing one. She found little by way of online resources to guide the process, so she decided to develop her own guide, which she outlined in a presentation at Inbound 2014 in Boston today.

Below is her three-step recipe that you can use to whip your blog into shape.

1. Understand your target audience and give them what they want.

Any good blog needs more than just good content, it needs content that appeals to the people you’re trying to target, said Hussain. This means taking some time to find out exactly what your ideal reader wants.

Set up meetings with 10 people in your target audience. Lure them with free coffee or lunch and pick their brains, she said. Find out what they want to read about, and watch for visual and behavioral clues that tells you who they are and what they like. Use that information to guide your content choices.

2. Plan your strategy and structure.

It takes time to develop content, so it’s wise to devote one full-time employee to the task to get your blog started, says Hussain. Also be sure to:

  • Use your blog as a home base to direct visitors to other content.
  • Opt for quality posts in smaller number, for example two a week, over quantity.
  • Optimize your url to make it searchable, for example, insert dashes between words so search engines can read it.
  • Provide catchy headlines that don’t misrepresent content.
  • Create a catchy introduction that is short and to the point.
  • Provide easy-to-scan section headers
  • Avoid keyword stuffing
  • Provide easy to read visuals and be sure to include searchable text along with the visual
  • Make your first link the most important, it’s the one search engines will use

Hussain said it’s also important to take advantage of SlideShare. “I think there is a lot of power behind SlideShare but not everyone is using it the way they should be,” said Jon Mehlman, director of marketing for Daymark Solutions who attended the presentation.

Remember, it's not enough for a blog just to exist, it needs to be an active presence. “Ninety-seven percent more leads are generated by companies with an active blog,” according to Hussain.

3. Help your blog grow.

“The goal of a new blog is growing subscribers first, not leads,” says Hussain. The reason for this is because if your blog has a steady subscriber-based audience, it is guaranteed a target audience and regular success.

How do you attract subscribers? Invite them to join using a succinct blog description that offers information on why the blog will appeal to them. Hussain said they invited:

  • Current contacts from the database
  • Churned users, those who no longer use the product, but may be interested in industry-related items
  • Non-users

To attract more people to subscribe it’s critical to ensure that the process is simple -- don’t make people jump through hoops to get on the list.

But also recognize it’s not enough just to attract new subscribers, said Hussain. While the Sidekick blog attracted 10,000 subscribers within six weeks and later grew to 60,000, Hussain's team went back and pared it down, cutting a whopping 40,000 off the list.

Why? Only 22,000 of those 60,000 were actually reading the blog, she said. The others read it a few times, but weren’t actively engaged. It’s better, she said, to have 22,000 active users who care about your content than more who just aren’t interested and may even be potentially annoyed by your efforts.

Because ultimately the success of your blog, and its ability to enhance your business is all about quality and not just being an online presence.