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Jonathan Wickham: The Anatomy of Content Strategy: Attracting Blog Readers

Corporate blogging. It’s the thing to do. Far too many businesses have jumped on the bandwagon with little more than a list of good ideas.

A whirlwind of content without aim doesn’t get you anywhere. Content that is designed to accomplish your goals and solidify your brand increases your visibility better than any other tactic.

A content strategy analyzes your brand, goals, target market, and competitors; then turns it all into an actionable plan for success. It gives all the content on your site a direction and purpose broader than just ranking. It’s a powerful tool that turns ranking into traffic, and traffic into loyal customers or readers.

I’d like to tell you about one of our favorite clients we work with at Digital Flavor and the steps we took to build a blog strategy that was the perfect marriage of social and content marketing.

Personas

Our strategy included three detailed reader personas that aligned with the client’s target market. Personas are critical to content strategy because corporate blogs are the sneakiest and least threatening sales tool in a business’s arsenal.

The blog can be used to attract the people who may just become the next lead if the content strategy plans for it.

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Call to Action

Another key element to the content strategy was the CTA. Blogs shouldn’t sell anything, that’s the rule. But we had a specific purpose for this client’s blog and if we were to increase the following we needed to continue to use sales principles indirectly. We developed sets of CTAs in three different categories: soft, hard, and follow.Soft CTA included things that invited readers to act in low-risk ways such as:

  • Learn more
  • LGet advice
  • LFind out how

This type of wording invited readers to make contact with the company without feeling like there was a sales pitch behind the curtain. We used soft CTA once out of every six blog posts.

Hard CTAs were more traditional invitations:

  • Fill out forms
  • Check out products
  • Request quotes

We used hard CTAs only when the blog topic invited it and only to a specific persona who was naturally nearer the narrow end of the funnel. The blog is only rarely the place for the sale, but with proper planning it can work.

Follow CTAs were designed to get readers deeper into the blog or the client’s site. These were all education or interest based:

  • Join us next week when we discuss . . .
  • Read more about
  • What do you think about . . .

This type of CTA made up the majority. Luckily, there’s lots of potential with this sort of CTA.

Dangling the carrot in front of the reader gets them to come back for the next post. Putting links within the post connected to other relevant topics is an easy way to provide great info to readers and help them discover the value the client’s blog offers. Asking readers to answer questions or make comments gets them engaged and interested in a conversation.

Content Calendars

Fresh and regular content is the name of the game. Not only does it keep you on track, but it optimizes the marketing aspect of the corporate blog.

We took the personas, CTAs and any other relevant info—like upcoming webinars, special offers, events, etc.—and harmonized it into the content calendar.

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The corporate blog becomes not just a bunch of related topics, but a designed and strategized marketing move that accomplishes a goal.

The Results

The changes were pretty dramatic. Here you can see how many more readers our client gained in comparison to before we started the campaign in August.

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And here’s the steady increase in page likes in the same time period.

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It’s clear that content strategy makes a difference in attracting blog readers. Give your corporate blog the direction it needs, strategize.

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