Welcome back to aimClear’s coverage of SES Chicago! Got stale content, dwindling blog traffic, and ready to throw in the keyboard? Help is on the way! During day two in Chicago, Dan Cristo from Catalyst Online and Virginia Nussey of Bruce Clay, Inc. shared best practices to tackle blog barriers and enhance your customer reach.
Moderator Anna Lee of SES Conference and Expo introduced Dan to the stage first to discuss the state of blogging. He shared some great insight on blog numbers and traffic in the United States. There are nearly 42 MILLION blogs in the U.S. – yikes, that is roughly one blog for every eight people in the nation!
He went on to share blog traffic stats:
- About 25 percent of corporate blogs receive 5,000 views a month
- About 35 percent of professional bloggers receive more than 5,000 visits a month
Clearly, most of those 42 million blogs aren’t gaining much traction. They are sitting alone in a very dusty digital library. Since so much traffic relies on very few blogs, Dan reached out to some of the most successful bloggers and shared their habits with the crowd at SES.
Spend some time on self-discovery and get focused. Blog success isn’t merely what you do, it’s also what you choose not to do – pinpoint what your audience cares about. During a video session with Dan, Gini Dietrich, founder of @SpinSucks and PR pro, shared a few words of advice: avoid being too broad, develop a vision, and then narrow in on a specific focus that connects with a particular community important to you.
3 Tips for Focusing:
- All content aligns clearly with blog’s mission statement
- Build a profile of your primary reader
- Set specific goals, and review daily. For example, to get X amount of leads, I need X amount of traffic.
You must become disciplined. Mark Schaefer, social media consultant and blogger, shared tips for getting disciplined and developing a routine via video with Dan. Mark, for example, collects ideas and gathers headlines all week. Then he blocks off the same time every Sunday morning to crank out one or two really great posts. He explained that since he is already coming with ideas collected throughout the week, he has the ability to easily get down to business come writing time. He shared that it is important for him to schedule time and make it a priority in his weekly routine.
3 Tips for Becoming Disciplined:
- Block two to three hours, preferably early in the day.
- Publish at the same time every week.
- Respond to every single comment. (This also helps build habits for your visitors and create expectations. Train them to comment, and they learn they will get a response and be heard.)
Become relationship driven to help build your community. Three tips for successful relationship building:
- Look your audience in the eye – digitally.
- Attend offline events to connect in person.
- Join a tribe (find other bloggers specific to your industry; share content, ideas and collaborate).
Stay authentic. Don’t let others sway your content direction – you don’t need to be a part of the in-crowd. You must figure out your own identity and find your own voice to truly connect with a niche audience. You can’t play both sides and cater content to all. Also, it can help to polarize your audience and embrace controversy if need be.
3 Tips for Being Authentic:
- Take a stand.
- Create original content.
- Monetize through trust (if sponsors don’t align with your core beliefs, you will lose the trust and respect of your community.)
In order to be successful, you may need to delegate. For example, strategically use guest bloggers to free time for strategic thinking, use employees or friends to support sharing and engagement, and think about hiring a virtual assistant to free time up, by helping to respond to emails, etc.
Be concise. Dan shared some tips for getting there:
- Post blog ideas in a short form on Twitter and Facebook to test engagement and determine how your audience reacts.
- Structure content in a reverse pyramid.
- Always revise – try to cut 50 percent of your content out after your first draft to remove excess fluff. Keep only value add content.
He wrapped up by reminding us all to remain persistent. Tips for keeping the passion:
- Follow your passion.
- Don’t be a perfectionist.
- Build a support system.
Next up, Virginia Nussey of Bruce Clay shared tips for reaching customers through blogs. First off, it is essential to know your audience, how to talk to them, and how to reach them. To get there, start by persona building – develop your ideal customer to help understand who your customer or reader is by determining common characteristics such as salary, occupation, offline activities, technical comfort level, trigger points, motivations, goals, etc.
To gather this information, conduct user research, look for themes and organize common elements. Helpful tools to aggregate this information could include email interviews, custom onsite surveys, Google consumer surveys and Quora.
In order to reach your customers, Virginia stressed the importance of researching your keywords. That can include examining how different personas talk about their need for your product in different ways. Use your persona’s pain points and motivations to help shape that language.
She shared some helpful keyword research tools to help make sure content is found by the personas you create, including Google Keyword Planner, Bing Ads Intelligence and SEOToolSet.
Next, reach out to influencers to help build credibility.
- Begin with guest posts – them on your blog and you on theirs.
- Comment in like-minded communities.
- Get involved in conversations and piggyback on hot topics.
Tools that can help discover influencers include:
- Search – find experts by topic.
Virginia explained that it is essential to make your blog a destination; essentially, it should be the axis of marketing where your content can live forever. Items that can enhance your destination presence include repurposing news releases, emails, ads (as appropriate), white papers, social posts, etc. These digital collateral pieces help make the blog dynamic, and create an interactive brand central for your company. In turn, it makes it easy to become a habit for readers.
To help develop consistent, great content, resource your organization. Think of everyone in your organization as a content creation asset. Not everyone is a writer, but almost everyone can be a great resource. Leverage individuals who may have something to share but can put it into words by utilizing a ghostwriter for their piece.
Make sure your customers know you’ll always have relevant and fresh content. Create a regularly scheduled program so your audience knows you will have content when they want it. Make sure your editorial calendar includes applicable events, seasons and promotions. Also, don’t turn your audience off – make sure you stick to the 80/20 rule; 80 percent should be entertaining, educational and useful. The remaining 20 percent can be sales-oriented.
That concluded our jam-packed session with Dan and Virginia on achieving blog conquest. Now, get out there, ramp up your blog and take these tactical tips to heart. Keep up with us as we continue to push out coverage from SES Chicago!