You Need to be Blogging on More Topics Than You Think
What is a blog? Is it a repository for press releases and advertisements? Is it a forum for you to brag about how much better your product is than its competitors? Or is it something else?
If you’re blogging properly, it should be an element of your content marketing strategy. That means that your blog should not serve as a repository for press releases or advertisements, nor an ego-boosting brag fest. Ideally, your blog is a collection of articles and resources that will attract and enrapture your target audience. Successfully blogging in this way will result in increased organic traffic, a healthier lead generation channel, and ultimately more sales. In fact, according to Blogging.com, as much as 90% of organic search traffic to a business website can come through its blog. But that assumes that you’re creating content that your audience actually wants to read.
Relevant to the Audience
Determining content relevance starts by understanding your audience, and understanding your audience starts with the process of creating marketing personas. An effective persona is a lot more than just demographic information, since the best you can do with the demographic information is rely on stereotypes to determine your audience’s desires, preferences, and pain points. Dig in deeper! Give your persona a name! Where does she work? What’s her role there? What does she do in her free time? What’s her 5-year plan? What are her hobbies? What is she afraid of? What are her pet peeves and pain points? The more detailed, the better.
If you’ve already interacted with many of your existing clients, you probably have a pretty good idea of these things already. If not, you’ll need to do some research. Take a look at past posts that have performed well. Social media can be a great tool for identifying the likes and dislikes of the people interacting with your brand and similar brands. Review mining is a clever strategy that can yield unexpected insight into your audience’s psyches. For any information you can’t find with research, you’ll need to make an educated guess. Only when you know who your audience is–on a personal, fundamental level–can you create content that speaks to their souls in a way that will earn their attention.
Cast a Wider Net
Relevant to your audience may not mean relevant to your products or services. Sure, it shouldn’t come way out of left field; you should have some level of expertise on the topics you write about. But that’s a wider net than you probably think.
Michael Brenner has said that “the problem with most content is that it is created for the boss. It isn’t created for the audience you are trying to reach, engage, and convert.” This is backed up by Moz research, which suggests that “tangential content earns more links and social shares in boring industries.” And the truth is, most of our industries are boring when we talk about them directly. We need to write less about what interests us, and more about what interests the audience. That word “tangential” is instructive. Geometrically speaking, there is an infinite number of unique tangents to every circle. And so it is with content.
Suppose you run a karate school. You shouldn’t just be blogging about the history of your particular style (although your audience may possibly find that interesting). Chances are, your audience consists of the parents of elementary school children. So you should also be writing about parenting, about bullying, about how kids can improve their grades and cope with learning disabilities. Or suppose you are a realtor. Don’t just put up new listings on your blog (although photo tours of currently available properties may perform well). Talk about ways homeowners can increase their property values, or about the current state of the housing market, or about the different kinds of financing and which ones are best for your audience. Get outside your niche, or you will have nothing valuable to offer.
Value is one of those buzzwords that gets overused in the content marketing space, but that’s because it’s such an important concept. In a previous article, I defined value as “that thing that your audience is coming to your blog to get.” It may be humor and entertainment, it may information about your industry, or may it be information about how they can solve a problem. It’s precisely because “value” can be so many different things that you need to understand the wants and needs of your audience. You have to predict what your audience wants on the most visceral, emotional level, and then try to get content in front of them that meets that emotional need. Doing so will position you, not only as a trustworthy expert, but as the ally and friend of the reader. The importance of that relationship cannot be overstated, since that’s the positioning the audience will carry with them into the sales funnel if and when they convert.
In short, you need to branch out. Just because an article doesn’t touch on your product or service doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t help you meet your content marketing goals. Tangential blog articles will help you generate organic traffic, improve your site’s performance in search, and position you favorably in the minds of your potential customers. Never underestimate the power of content in your marketing strategy.