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Blog Case Study: Three Lessons Learned from a 232% Increase in Visits over Eight Months

Almost every company, whether they see themselves as investing in content marketing or not, has a blog. In fact, so do many individuals. And even a few pets.

There are many blog posts around the Web about exactly what you should be doing on that blog, such as using Blogger because it has the best SEO (hey, it’s owned by Google), writing descriptive headlines, getting a faster hosting company, avoiding Blogger because the pros don’t use it….and on and on.

However, the “what” details only really matter if you’re already delivering on the essentials of what makes a blog worth reading, so  today I want to talk about the how. I’ll discuss three overarching lessons we’ve learned by making simple (but not easy) changes to the MarketingExperiments blog that have resulted in a 232% increase in visits over eight months.

People don’t care about your blog (or mine either)

People care about what interests them — and that is usually not your new product, new office, or new hire. So save company announcements for the annual picnic.

At the macro level, your company provides some value to some segment of society. If it didn’t, your company wouldn’t exist. Before you write your next post, figure out what that value is. For the MarketingExperiments blog, our job is to help marketers do their job better.

Even though your blog is likely free, to get someone to read your blog post requires a value exchange (or “mini-sale”). They will only pay you (with their time) in exchange for something that is valuable to them (expert information perhaps mixed with entertainment value).

Once you have established your blog’s value proposition, treat it as your Magna Carta. Your most sacred duty is to protect your audience from the different fiefdoms (sales, corporate marketing, even HR) who want to powerfully promote every new product, new office, and new hire.

The more successful you are, and the larger your audience grows, the harder (and more important) this job will be.

Everybody is a writer (especially if they’re not a writer)

OK, you’ve got your Magna Carta, and you’re hyped up about providing value for your once and future audience. Where…on Earth…do you find that value?

Many companies have this challenge – so much to write, yet no one to write it. MarketingExperiments experienced this, too, even though we are all professional marketers. When we switched from random blog posts to a consistent, three times a week publication schedule, all of the sudden, we had a lot of holes to fill.

Here’s the secret to filling them: everybody is a writer. Your engineers, your customer services reps, your fire-breathing jugglers – whatever job titles you have in your organization, add “blog writer” after them.

The challenge is that they likely don’t see themselves that way (again, even here). Our research analysts are so used to getting triple-digit gains on their Internet marketing experiments and have such deep knowledge of digital marketing in general that they see no value in writing a blog post about it. “Gimme a break. Who doesn’t know about that?”

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it (and if you’ve read this far you likely have), is to show them the value they provide. For instance:

  • Ask your engineers about workarounds to common problems before an official fix has been released.
  • Ask customer service reps about commonly-asked questions and how they can be addressed.
  • Ask fire-breathing jugglers about quality flame-retardant clothing.

Someone is paying your co-workers to do something. That makes them professionals. Get them to see the day-to-day activities they excel at (and take for granted) as opportunities for blog posts. And then it’s your job to put it into words and make it sound good.

Let the sunlight in (or someone will break your window)

The truth is a mouse-click away, so make sure it’s on your blog. Or, someone else will publicize it for you.

Before they do that, earn the trust of skeptical customers by following the precepts of Transparent Marketing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click that link. It’s all there. It’s free. And (in full disclosure), it’s written by my boss, Flint McGlaughlin.

While we like to stay positive on the MarketingExperiments blog, I will occasionally broach tough subjects. You can check out “Trust but verify” in the previous link to see what I’m talking about.

A blog that is nothing more than a corporate mouthpiece has no value to any audience. But why take it from me? Or Flint? Transparency is nothing new, just ask David Ogilvy…

“The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife. You wouldn’t lie to your wife. Don’t lie to mine.”

What other struggles – and successes – have you had with finding the right resources and voice for your blog? Share them in the comments below.