It was such a pleasure for us to present “The 3 Cs of Profitable Business Blogging” yesterday at the MarketingProfs Virtual Social Media Conference. We hope many of you were able to attend and thought we’d share some of the key points from our presentation with CMI readers who couldn’t be there.
If you’re a MarketingProfs member, you can view the presentation. (Note: The presentation will be available after 4 PM ET today.)
Our presentation was designed as an intermediate “201”-type class with the assumption that audience members had either jumped into business blogging already or were about to and had the basic tools needed. In both cases, our expectation was they were looking to optimize the blog and take it to the next level.
Why is a “201”-level blogging class even needed?
As Junta42/MarketingProfs’ B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends study discovered, although 51% of businesses have launched a business blog only 40% of users believe their blog is effective.
Enter what we termed the “3 Critical Cs” that we believe are must-haves for business blogging success:
- Your business blog (and any blog for that matter) must have a clearly defined VISION
- The vision is very different from the mission or purpose of the blog — learn more about the difference between vision and mission here
- This vision must be clearly articulated and shared among the entire blogging team and all blog stakeholders
- There must be buy-in and commitment from all parties involved in bringing the vision to life
- Your blog strategies must then tie back to, and align with, the vision in order to ensure entire blog team is “rowing the boat in the right direction”
- Objectives for each and every blog strategy should be measurable.
Blogging Example: Patagonia’s The Cleanest Line blog. Note that the blog’s About Page shares the mission of The Cleanest Line blog. “The goal of The Cleanest Line is to further Patagonia’s mission by encouraging dialogue about the products we build, the sports we love and the environmental issues we’re concerned about.”
It then goes on to share the vision of the blog in the following sentences: By talking openly about the products we build, Patagonia users can help us achieve ever greater standards of quality and functionality. By spreading the word about specific environmental issues, we can increase awareness and take action as quickly as possible. By sharing field reports, we can inspire one another to keep experiencing the natural wonders of our precious planet. And like any good conversation, there’s always the possibility for pranksters and poets to direct the conversation towards territories lacking any seriousness whatsoever.
The About Page serves to clearly set the tone of the blog not just for the readers, but for Patagonia’s bloggers as well. This way, both the readers and the bloggers know exactly what to expect on the blog, and what its mission and vision are.
- You must create content on your blog that is valuable and engaging
- This isn’t easy: 36% of the B2B companies surveyed in the Junta42/MarketingProfs study said that their biggest content marketing challenge is “producing engaging content”
- Know your customers/readers inside and out to determine and then clearly define what is valuable and engaging to them
- Find the “bigger idea” behind your blog and bring it to life in a variety of ways, through topics and content variety
- Make sure you’re still measuring — it is possible to measure value and engagement!
Blogging Example: Graco’s Blog. When Graco decided to launch a company blog a few years ago, it did extensive research to decide that the blog’s target audience should be young parents with young children. Taking this into account, Graco decided to create content focused on parenthood, since most of its target audience were parents for the first time, and needed guidance and help.
This was the ‘bigger idea’ behind the blog’s content, and the decision to focus the blog’s content on parenthood was a huge success. Prior to launching its company blog, 68% of all online mentions of Graco were positive. But 18 months after the blog’s launch, that percentage had increased to 83% positive! This is a perfect example of a company blog that’s creating content focused on the ‘bigger idea’ behind a company’s products and services.
- By driving and nurturing engagement, you’ll create a real community via your blog
- Engagement furthers interest, feedback and leads to better business decisions and potentially lower business costs
- Make sure your target audience is fully engaged and part of what can be a much wider community
- Your “off-the-blog” strategy is critical to blogging success
- Your network is invaluable and may be an important engagement driver
- Give your readers a sense of ownership in every way possible on your business blog and reward them for participating in your community
- Trust is key – know if and how you’re fostering it.
Blogging Example: HomeGoods’ OpenHouse Blog. If you visit the OpenHouse blog, you’ll immediately notice how the bloggers are prominently featured. This isn’t by accident, because HomeGoods wants its readers to be very comfortable with the bloggers. The blog has an easily accessible bio and pictures for every blogger. In addition, when you leave a comment on the blog, the bloggers always respond to you, and they reply with your first name. The comments look like the bloggers are writing a letter to you, and they do this on purpose because they want to encourage interaction and discussion. Everything about the blog is positioned to make readers feel ‘at home’ and comfortable interacting with the bloggers and each other.
So, start this New Year with a concerted focus on the clarity of your vision. Articulate your vision to your stakeholders and tie your strategies to it, producing engaging and valuable content. Then, create strategies and tactics to nurture and grow your blog’s community. We guarantee you a more effective, profitable business blog for 2011!