You've done the work of creating a business blog, built your content strategy around your personas, and written your first few blog articles. Now what? Unfortunately, blogging isn't as simple as "if you write it, they will come."
In inbound marketing, a blog primarily serves the purpose of driving traffic to your website and increasing your visibility in organic search. This is done by writing articles that appeal to your personas—i.e. answer questions they would have in the "awareness" stage of the buyer's journey and about topics they would search. For more on how to write your business blog for target personas, check out this recent post.
Once you've got your blog set up, here are five tactics you need in place to drive traffic to it.
1) Subscriber Emails
Part of your blog setup should be creating emails that are automatically sent to subscribers, notifying them whenever your new articles post. Then place a call-to-action (CTA) to encourage subscriptions on your blog. This CTA should be above the fold on your blog's main page and every blog article. Depending on your frequency of posting, include options for subscribers to receive instant, daily, or weekly notifications—here's what ours looks like for the Whole Brain Marketing Blog.
These automated emails are important because they invite people to read your new articles. The more views you get, the more likely it is that your article will be shared on social media (more on that in a minute), increasing traffic further.
In addition to the automated subscriber emails, you can also create monthly "Blog-in-Review" emails that share select recent or popular posts with your leads. You can also send a summary of specific posts targeted to specific segments. For example, if you have a group of marketing qualified leads who are in the middle of the funnel (a.k.a. the "consideration" stage of the buyer's journey), a post about "5 Things Your Parts Supplier Should be Doing For You" would be something they'd want to read.
The key with these types of emails is to always think in terms of providing content your personas will want to read—not to bombard or annoy people who aren't engaging with you.
2) Blog Launch Campaign
When you launch your blog, there are several promotional tactics you can take in the form of a campaign to grow initial traffic. Growing initial traffic is crucial to increasing views and social sharing, which will help fuel long-term organic traffic growth. For more on why growing initial subscribers is so important, check out this HubSpot post on Why Blog Subscribers Matter More Than Leads.
Your blog launch campaign should include an email to all of your contacts inviting them to subscribe to your blog. Make sure this email spells out why your blog is different than other industry blogs, and how it benefits the reader (your persona). And, since you already have the contact's email, don't make them do the work of re-entering their email to subscribe. Instead, track who's clicked the specific CTA in that email and enroll those people as subscribers automatically (hint: you can do this in HubSpot with a workflow).
Other elements of your campaign should be to promote your new blog on company social media pages. Your blog subscription form could also redirect to a Thank You Page that encourages subscribers to share pre-created messages to their followers, such as "I just subscribed to the Whole Brain Marketing Blog!"
3) Staff Social Media Plan
Speaking of social media, not only should you promote your blog on company pages, your staff should also promote the blog. Have a plan in place to communicate your blog to employees, and make it clear what actions they're expected to take. Make sure your social sharing icons are set up to share pre-approved messages so that staff can easily share each post without having to write their own message. Lastly, make sure everyone knows when a new blog is published. Tools like Zapier integrate with marketing automation platforms and can send emails to your employees notifying them when a new article posts. The email reminds them to share the blog and includes a link so they can do so easily.
4) Effective Website Navigation
Since the goal of business blogging is to drive traffic to your website, you want to have a website that's easy to navigate once someone gets there. Along the same lines, making your blog prominent on your home page makes the blog itself easy to find for anyone who's visiting your website, thus increasing your blog traffic.
Here are 5 best practices to follow to achieve this:
- Include your blog in the main navigation menu and footer of your website
- Use a smart CTA to promote your latest blog article on the homepage
- Also use smart CTAs to promote related content on your subpages. For example, if you manufacture electronics components, on your products subpage, you can promote a blog about "5 Reasons to Involve Your Manufacturer in Circuitry Design"
- In your blog articles, include relevant links to your webpages—this keeps visitors on your site longer and encourages them to learn more about your company
- Make sure your blog navigation is also user-friendly by organizing posts in the sidebar navigation by Recent, Popular, and Category (topic)
5) Standard On-Page SEO
The same rules of optimizing for search engines that apply to your website apply to your blog articles. You want your blogs to turn up in the SERPs when your personas are searching for answers to their questions, which means your articles should:
- Include outbound links to authoritative sites to show authenticity
- Include internal links to your related blogs or webpages (note the first link in the post is given priority by Google)
- Optimize URLs for search engines—clearly identify what the article is about
- Use long-tail keywords for which you want to rank, but be sure you're not stuffing keywords into the URLs or articles. Search engines are smarter than that and it can actually hurt your SEO
- Have a clear, catchy headline that reflects the article's content
- Include a meta description that's fewer than 150 characters
- Have alt-text for every image
Driving Traffic to Your Blog Helps Achieve Inbound Goals
As marketers, we're always thinking about lead generation. But when you're trying to build a steady stream of traffic to a new industry blog, it's important to focus on getting that traffic in the first place. By following these five tactics, you'll drive traffic to your industry blog, which will help increase the visibility of your company website and create an ongoing source of traffic to fuel lead generation...which is likely why you decided to start blogging in the first place!