Subscriptions or Searches – the Effective Role of Blogging in B2B Content Marketing

September 22, 2015 Ed Marsh

This article was written by Ed Marsh of guest contributor Consilium Global Business Advisors.

Why do you blog?

“Blog three times/week? Are you kidding? That’s too much in our industry. Everyone would unsubscribe!”

That’s a typical response from B2B marketers, particularly in the industrial space. It’s interesting for both what it articulates explicitly and what it reveals implicitly.

  1. Many B2B marketers see their blog as something which is measured in effectiveness by subscriber count (And further that they assume subscription updates can only be provided with immediate publishing notification)
  2. It implies that they don’t see attracting and converting new leads as a critical function of the blog (after all, subscribers are by definition existing contacts.)

Subscriptions or Searches - The effective role of blogging in B2B content marketing

Roles & rules for a blog

Of course a blog can fill any number of different objectives. Some may use it to provide product use tips to current customers. Other’s use it to announce news and product developments. Those aren’t wrong, and use tips may create value for a small number of existing customers. But all of these miss the biggest opportunity for a blog.

Rather than simply another deadline, obligation and burden, each blog post represents an opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership to search engines to be served up as an answer to a question/challenge for which someone searches answers/solutions.

Once served, found and clicked in a search, the article needs to validate the impression that you have some insight which is substantive. And then give an opportunity for someone to get more of your insight (e.g. download an eBook or see other relevant articles.)

  • In order for that to work, many things have to be executed well
  • You need to understand the buyer, the questions they’ll ask and the sort of answers that will resonate
  • You need to optimize your article so that the search engines understand the value and deliver it to the right people
  • Your teaser bits that appear in the search must entice the searcher to click your result from among the ten they see
  • Your article has impress them with quality and relevance
  • The opportunities to dive deeper have to be obvious, compelling and relevant
  • Your landing pages and conversion forms must be streamlined and compelling.

Simple but not easy – too many wasted leads

OK, so that all sounds pretty straightforward. And it is in theory.

Execution is not – and all too often with a sigh of relief at having another article ready to publish, the “pay-off” step of the lead conversion, is handled with cavalier inattention.

The conversion opportunity is squandered and all the effort up to that point is wasted. Sure you have your subscriber list, and maybe one of them will forward or share your article. But the real power of your blog is in it’s evergreen ability to attract new leads – and whether on the day you publish or three years later, you can’t afford to miss those leads.

Think conversions

It’s important therefore to treat conversion as a goal rather than a byproduct of blogging. You have to have solid, helpful, valuable content to provide a deeper dive (library of eBooks, webinars, whitepapers, calculators, checklists, case studies, etc.) You must also:

  1. Create compelling Calls to Action (CTAs) that are visually arresting and clearly convey the value of the offered content
  2. Experiment and test design, text, type and placement of CTAs (in line hyperlinks, slide in graphics, sidebar graphics, A/B versions, etc.)

This isn’t about home runs – it’s a game of singles. Increasing click rates incrementally delivers more new contacts and leads, and continuous improvement based on analytics is effective.

Applying AI to the conversion challenge

What if you could do more? Or more appropriately what if bringing in the big guns would help you do more? Prompt the conversion dynamically at the critical moment, with just the right offer and in just the right place?

What if you offered the article reader, who was about to click off the page, the opportunity to subscribe? Or a floating offer to download the eBook which you’d offered in CTAs on the page which were hidden by their instinctive right sidebar blinders?

And what if over time you let “the machine” collect and crunch data and decide for you which offers would be most likely to convert – and how, when and where to present them for optimized results?

The content still has to be great; it’s got to be intensely relevant to the visitor and well aligned with the article that brought them in. But by eliminating the “gut feelings” and “guessing” you stand to substantially improve the lead generation function of your website.

Wondering how? A conversion optimization application can often plug seamlessly into your CMS to deliver precisely these results.

Boosting other metrics while you boost conversions

Your payoff as a marketer are the lead conversions – so increasing the number of qualified leads is often a defining metric. But there’s another, less often recognized impact of increasing conversions.

A recent article took a critical look at the “time on page” metric that many marketers use and which may factor in search rankings. Will Fleiss noted that a visitors activity on the last page before exit isn’t counted by Google in determining time on page. That’s an important point – it means that the visitor that finds your blog article in a search, clicks the result and spends 7 minutes engaged and reading….and then leaves without visiting another page, appears to Google as a bounce.

How do you change that? One workaround is time based scripts as the article suggests. Another is to increase conversions! Make it natural for that visitor to click to a landing page to become a lead….and boost your important time on page metric.

Don’t waste the leads

And then……follow up on your leads.

Ensure your sales & marketing alignment is appropriate and that an SLA is in place which governs follow up and feedback.

Actually closing the leads is the ultimate metric…although conversions are a critical precursor.

 

The post Subscriptions or Searches – the Effective Role of Blogging in B2B Content Marketing appeared first on BrightInfo.

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