B2B blogging has been one of the most effective inbound marketing tactics for years, and it’s the most popular method among marketers. Blogging is so important, that 76% of B2B marketers planned to produce more blog content in 2016. But not everybody is winning at blogging. Only 42% of B2B marketers say they’re effective at content marketing, including blogging. How come?
With all the plethora of best-practices listicles out there, you’d think most businesses would find blogging to be a cinch. But the fact is, there are plenty of blogging myths that are still alive and well in 2017.
Are you buying into any of these common blogging myths?
We’re Too Niche to Blog
So you’re in a “boring” industry, eh? Think you’re too niche for blogging? No one Googles your product? They say you can only slice an apple so many ways before you’re left with applesauce.
Customers who need your product or service are highly motivated to get their questions answered. Their problems don’t feel boring or uninteresting to them, and they’re looking for real help to solve real issues that are impacting their business. The more information they can get, the better, and it doesn’t matter if the topic is sexy or not.
B2B customers do a lot of research before making a purchasing decision—they’re nearly 90% through the buyer’s journey by the time they talk with you. They need to be well informed, because they’ve got a CFO or other stakeholders asking a lot of questions.
Your blog is the perfect place to answer those questions.
One of our clients is a bulletproof glass manufacturer. They’ve been blogging since 2009 and they still have something new to say every week.
“Boring” or niche companies might need to dig a little deeper to avoid repeating themselves all the time, but you’ll be surprised how much there is to say. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Talk about industry trends
- Do a series of posts about the top 10 (or 7, or 5) problems your customers face—one problem for each post
- Share a customer success story
- Pull back the curtain on your business and give an insider’s peek
- Answer common myths or objections
- Take earlier posts or content offers and expand on one aspect of them
- Answer the most common questions your sales team hears
- Take old posts and approach them from the opposite perspective
The Ideal Blog Length Is 400-600 Words
There’s a rule of thumb that search engines don’t pay attention to posts under 350 words, and that busy people don’t pay attention to posts that are too long. So 400-600 words is the sweet spot.
Except that’s not entirely true.
Long posts have legs
Turns out, longer posts are getting more ROI. And by long, I mean 2000+ words. People spend more time on long posts, they share them more often, and the CTAs on those posts get more clicks. Search engines also love lots of content, so you get a bonus there, too.
But not every post needs to be that long, and you probably shouldn’t do it, either. Long posts get certain results, but shorter posts get different results. You should consider your goals for each piece of content before deciding how long you should make it.
Short is beautiful
For example, do you want more comments on the blog? Shorter is better. Need to get several posts out quick? Then you probably ought to keep them short and sweet. And you should never extend a post with low-value filler simply because you think it should be long.
When it comes to short blogs, it’s true that search engines don’t give them much authority, in general. But as with all best practices, you should keep this in perspective. It’s not going to hurt your bottom line if you have one or two posts that are under 400 words. So if you’ve got a post that only makes sense as a short post, then keep it short and move on. Just don’t let it become a habit.
You Should See ROI on Your Blogging within a Month
That would be great, wouldn’t it? Truth is, it takes a bit longer than that to see real results that you can take to the bank. But the good news is, blogging has a compounding effect. Because your content isn’t relevant for just one day (or week, or month), visitors will keep discovering old blog posts as well as new ones. Some of our most popular posts are a couple of years old.
And as you add new posts, those will also gain more traffic over the months and years. So as you continue to blog over time, you’ll see a compounding return on your efforts.
The upshot of it all is, don’t judge any article’s effectiveness too soon. Wait a quarter, or more, before you analyze its effectiveness.
Your Blog Needs to Attract More Visitors
Blog articles make great top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content, which means they’re great for driving visitors to your blog. But this doesn’t mean all of your blog articles are TOFU content, or that your blogging goal should be limited to attracting more visitors.
More visitors doesn’t always mean better. In fact, fewer might be better—at least, for a time.
Some time ago, we had a client who had been spending all their time and energy trying to get as many visitors to their site as possible. They came to us hoping that we’d provide the magic solution to attract more eyeballs. Instead, their site visits dropped.
They panicked, but we were pleased with the results. Why? Because they’d been attracting the wrong visitors—people who would never convert or purchase from them. That’s not the kind of visitor you want.
Your blog doesn’t necessarily need to attract more visitors, it needs to attract the right visitors.
Besides that, blogging is also great for middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) content, and for that your goal is lead conversion, not site visits.
More Blogging = More Business
Studies show that B2B companies that blog more get more sales. In fact, companies that publish 11 or more posts per month earn four times as many leads as businesses that only publish once a week.
But if you want to win more business, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be blogging more. You might do better to focus on converting the visitors you’re already getting than putting your energy into a more frantic blogging schedule.
This is why knowing the shape of your funnel is so important. If you’re blogging once a week and drawing 20,000 visitors a month but you’re only getting 200 conversions, your problem isn’t about blogging frequency—it’s about optimizing your content for lead generation.
The key is to be efficient with your content. If you’ve got a bottleneck in your funnel, fix that first. Then you can start publishing more blog posts. That’s where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
Publish on Monday Morning
You want to get your posts in front of people when they’re most likely to read them, so it’s a smart idea to optimize your publish times. There are all sorts of studies out there that’ll tell you exactly when you should publish your posts. I’ve heard Tuesday morning, Monday at 11:00, and anything but Friday.
The fact is, every industry has its own trends, and every business is different. Best practices are a great place to start, but they’re rarely the best practice for you. Instead, do some experimenting and pay attention to the results you get with your own audience. After all, it doesn’t matter what all the research shows, if it doesn’t match your audience’s habits!
Master All the SEO Rules
SEO gets a lot of attention, and for good reason. It’s one of the most critical elements of making sure your content earns a high ROI.
But it can also get out of hand. Google makes about 500 algorithm changes a year, and it can take a full-time dedicated SEO expert to maximize your content. There’s on-page SEO, backlinking, searcher intent, multidimensional analysis, strategic markup, self-canonical tagging, and UX considerations—just to name a few facets. It doesn’t take much to fall down the rabbit hole, and some companies spend as much as $3,000 a month to keep an SEO specialist on retainer.
The good news is, you probably don’t need to be an SEO ninja to see positive results. You just need to have a good grasp of the basics.
For most B2B marketers, you can get a lot of traction by focusing your efforts on on-page SEO: optimizing the blog content itself, using best practices.
Blogs Are Only Good for Organic Traffic
In general, most of your blog traffic will be organic (if you’re successful). You’ll also get hits from subscribers, too. But don’t think of your blog as a tool that’s just for these audiences.
You can get a big boost from your blog content by using it to target very specific leads at specific points along the buyer’s journey. One of our clients uses their blog for sales as much as they do for marketing. Nearly every post they publish is designed for sales reps to send along to prospects, to answer specific questions and objections. It’s proven to be an effective tactic that engages customers and nurtures buyers through the bottom half of the sales funnel.
Don’t Be Salesy
Nearly every list of blogging best practices will tell you not to be salesy in your business blog content. It’s a turnoff, and readers will sniff out a used-car salesman a mile away.
But be careful not to go too far in the opposite direction! There’s nothing wrong with talking about your products and services on your own blog. It’s no secret that you’re a business and you want to win more customers. Your subscribers will expect you to tell them how you can solve their problems.
Occasional blog posts about your products and services won’t chase people away, especially if you’re coming from a help-first perspective. Show your readers how you can solve their problems, and they’ll keep coming back. But if you avoid talking about your offerings altogether, you’ll miss out on opportunities to generate leads.
Beyond Blogging Best Practices
Blogging best practices are a great place to start. But don’t stick to them too tightly, or you could fall prey to the myths that’ll hold you back from seeing your best marketing results. As with every inbound marketing tactic, experiment with your blogging and see what kinds of results you get with different tweaks.