Great business blogs have to walk a fine line: they have to create value for current and prospective customers while supporting a strategy that provides business growth.
Business blogs are often measured by very different metrics than blogs that function as media outlets. The media business online is about impressions and clicks. However, if the goal of your B2B business blog is lead generation, then you shouldn't care much about impressions. While one person may generate 100 impressions in a week for a media site, for a business blog, that same person is only going to account for one lead regardless of how often they view your content.
Because business blogging has different goals, it also has some distinct best practices that distinguish it from personal blogs or media blogs. The challenge is to find the right blend of content for your audience.
Think Like a Vertically Integrated Publisher
You are not a business blogger. You are a vertically integrated online publisher. Your job is not to publish an article or two each week. Instead, you have the same responsibilities that publishers in traditional media have; the only difference is that all of those responsibilities are tied directly to your business.
Publishers have to create relevant content, determine the best methods to publicize their content to improve reach, and define advertising opportunities as well as manage them. As a vertically integrated publisher, you should do all of these things for your company to ensure that the content you create is valuable to prospective customers and is delivered in a way that can support lead generation for your business.
Focus on Non-Branded Keyword Content
Readers don’t want you to talk about your company on your blog, and this is great for your business. It is likely that, if you have spent some time optimizing your website, you rank well in search engines for your company name and related terms. However, business blogs provide the opportunity to build incoming traffic from non-branded keywords.
For example, if you are a manufacturer, instead of blogging about your company and products, you should be writing about industry best practices and answering common customer questions about higher level product issues. This content will not only help increase search traffic, but also drive better quality prospects to your company website.
Ask Readers What They Want
It is easy to get caught up in the type of information you think is interesting, but after business blogging for a few months you’ll experience the need to ask readers what they want.
Assumptions can often be wrong, so conduct a survey on your business blog as a way to obtain clear feedback from readers. Questions should address topics for future posts and types of content readers prefer (e.g. text vs. audio vs. video, etc.), and the survey should also include space for comments to give readers the opportunity to make their own, personalized suggestions.
Connect Your Blog with Your Website
Business blogs can be a major source of new traffic from search engines and social media. Having a blog as part of your corporate site, either as a subdomain (blog.yourdomain.com) or as a page (yourdomain.com/blog) gives the SEO credit to your domain, whereas hosted blogs (yourcompany.blogspot.com) do not.
Realize that a blog post may be the first thing a potential customer sees about your company. So it is also important to make sure the navigation and other design elements of your blog are consistent and easy for users to find information about your company elsewhere on your website if they’re looking for it.
Include Relevant Calls-to-Action
For your readers, your blog is a stepping-stone to even more of the great information they want. They clicked through to your article from a search engine to read your entertaining, informative, or otherwise engaging content. Give them more of what they came to you for by providing calls-to-action, text or images that link to other similar content on your site.
Guide readers through their decision-making process by offering them a way to get more detailed content, such as an eBook download, that provides deeper thought leadership on the topic they came to you for in the first place.