As a content marketer, I read a lot of blogs. I subscribe to 201 blogs and have another two dozen or so outlets saved as links, which I monitor daily. I monitor streams on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook and plough through Google news for hours every morning. I’m also a recent Prismatic user. This is how I uncover news for my clients and our agency and stay on top of the latest developments in each industry.
Out of the hundreds of news items I skim every day, I read perhaps only a fifth of their leads. Of those leads, only a small fraction grabs my attention and tempts me to read on. Of those I read through to the end, only a few are shared on our agency’s and client’s accounts. Needless to say, the vast majority of content I read on the Internet today is rubbish.
And it’s a shame because there’s no reason for it. We know that Google and our readers favour great content. In fact, the number one rule for SEO is to write for your readers. It amazes me that there are people out there — CMOs, CEOs, content marketers, and bloggers — who are convinced that pumping out web garbage will actually do something positive for their businesses and reputations.
And it’s a shame because it’s such a waste. B2B business blogs can boost credibility, shine a spotlight on your talent, attract leads, provide valuable information for your current customers and foster customer loyalty, increase links to your site and boost SEO, to name just a few benefits.
Is it possible they don’t know they are publishing crap? — I have asked myself this on more than one occasion. Using content as a marketing tactic is not new, but a lot of us are new to some of the more modern practices such as blogging and managing corporate social media accounts. I have spoken to many newbies to this marketing field, and many are still groping around in the dark, trying to find their “voice,” figure out how to “humanize” their business, and uncover best practices for strategy, management and measurement. Many are still learning how to write.
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If you are considering starting a business blog, I encourage you to consider these points before you begin. If you’re already blogging and wondering why your readership and engagement levels are struggling to gain momentum, you might be guilty of the following:
1. Your headline reads like a bad press release
As the first point of contact, your headline needs to hook your intended audience. Attention is earned, and you won’t get popular by shouting company or client news at your audience through a long-winded headline. Your headline should be punchy, engaging and tell your audience what they can expect from the article. There is a certain art to writing a great headline. But your headline doesn’t have to be a masterpiece either — the title of this article should be a case in point. Copyblogger offers a number of great resources for headline writing in its post: How to write magnetic headlines.
2. You bury or don’t have a lead
After your audience bites onto your headline, you must give them a little taste of what’s to come in the form of a lead. For hard news, you dish your audience the goods right away. In feature pieces, it’s okay to tease your audience by painting a scene or sharing an engaging aspect about the subject of your story at the top before telling them what the story is about. While blogs can be a bit more conversational and casual, you need to tell your readers what they can expect from your article up front. Your readers won’t dig for your thesis; they will move on to another article that provides them with the information they need in an easy-to-digest format.
3. You have grammar and spelling errors and poor sentence structure
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: spelling and grammar count, folks. If you don’t have an editor and have difficulty writing, hire one or outsource those activities to an agency. Bad spelling, grammar and sentence structure will not only drive your audience away, they will damage your business’s reputation.
4. You fail to tell your readers a story or provide value
Content marketers are great storytellers. There should be a logical flow and purpose to your post and your message should resonate with your readers. If the subject of your story isn’t exciting — and this is often the case for B2B technology companies — make it valuable and provide your readers with easy-to-digest information that they can apply. In blogging, it’s best to write about one subject well rather than jump between various ideas. Consider using a case study or personal experience to personalize your content, and always remember to speak to your audience in your audience’s language.
5. Your content isn’t newsworthy
I read news every morning to see if there is any recent content that I could refer to or link to in my posts. Recent news makes for great content because people are already searching for it, and you have a better chance of benefitting from link backs to your content. Remember, there are eight values that determine newsworthiness: prominence, proximity, currency, timeliness, conflict, impact, human interest, and the odd or unusual. Of course, not all blog posts will hit these points as some (like this one) are helpful “how to’s.” But you should try to hit some of these news values in your posts.
6. Your blog is covered in advertisements
Advertisements are a great way to profit from blogging, and one or two is okay. But when your readers have to jump over ads to get to the next paragraph of your post, you’ve gone too far. I avoid these blogs because, not only are they hard to read, it seems as though they have sacrificed some of their integrity to allow so many advertisements on their posts. Maybe that’s unfair, but my background in journalism has taught me that ads can sometimes lead to advertorials. If a blog has financial backers, perhaps some of its content has been compromised. But that’s just my opinion. I’d be happy to hear what you think.
7. You don’t allow your readers to comment
Bloggers have turned off their comments sections for a number of reasons, some of which include:
- They allow anonymity which encourages unhealthy behaviour and unconsidered responses
- They are distracting, burdensome and have the potential to influence the way you write
- A significant percentage of readers likely don’t go on to read the comments of others
I disputed all of these points in an earlier post and explained why comments are valuable. See Why we value blog comments, even if they aren’t all constructive for details.
Following that advice, what do you think? What does a blogger have to do to push you away?
Francis Moran and Associates is an associated team of seasoned practitioners of a number of different marketing disciplines, all of whom share a passion for technology and a proven record of driving revenue growth in markets across the globe. We work with B2B technology companies of all sizes and at every life stage and can engage as individuals or as a full team to provide quick counsel, a complete marketing strategy or the ongoing hands-on input of a virtual chief marketing officer.