Too often we think of a blog as a kind of writing. We think of “sports blogs,” “baby blogs,” “political blogs,” etc. Often, people pit blogs against things like news articles, magazines, or traditional media.
For companies considering a dive into inbound marketing, it’s critical to understand a blog differently, because ultimately, you'll need to show your organization that your marketing plan works. Blogs are not a style of writing or a type of media. Today, a blog is a piece of heavy machinery that drives your inbound marketing operations. It’s a kind of technology that gets fed 500-1,000 words of writing every so often, and in turn, it produces more visits to your website.
We marketers need to explain blog utilization internally as a lead generation process; not a general PR effort, and for that, we need to understand how a blog really works.
Let’s Look at What the Components of a Blog Really Are
Check out any company’s blog, and you’ll see the same several elements. You have the title, an author, body text with images, a publish date, category tags, and maybe an author bio at the end. For most visitors, a blog looks like any old article, and at the core, that’s right.
The only thing is: most visitors don’t realize that those components really are just components; they’re separated pieces of content associated with each other. They can just as easily be separated into columns in row one of a spreadsheet as they could be formatted to look like an article. The beauty of blogs is that at a basic level, it’s just the same five components on a page every single time.
That’s what makes blogs easy. They’re easy to write: all you need is to type up 500 words in a Word document, then paste it into the body area of whatever content management platform you use. Add the other four elements and you’re good to go. They’re also easy for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms to index and find. Because it’s the same five components every single time, every social and search platform in the world can grab a title, a snippet of body text, an image, and the author, and reformat things to look how they want it to.
Why Blogs Drive Inbound Marketing Success
Blogs have become an incredibly important way to communicate because at the core, they’re a technology that’s easy for both people and the Internet to understand. They’re vital in search engine optimization; critical to driving a social media campaign, and they look enough like a good ol’ newspaper article for even old school executives to understand.
What inbound marketing adds on to a basic business blog is a sixth major component: a call-to-action (CTA). CTAs have transformed what was already the best communication format online into the most effective way to generate leads. By adding CTAs to blogging software, companies like HubSpot have created a way to attract visitors from all over the Internet and turn them into leads.
Being able to explain your blog as a tool and not a kind of writing helps to demonstrate how your blogging efforts can carry your lead generation responsibility. Contrary to popular belief, you’re not just writing and hoping somebody will read it. You’re using a collection of tools, including CTAs, emails, landing pages, and optimized blog software to attract lots of attention and turn a portion of that attention into identifiable prospects.
Blogs as Owned Media: Your Own Publication
When you look at blogging from this technical perspective, what it really comes down to is that a blog is a tool for publishing whatever you want. It’s a format, not a genre. Instead, it’s up to you to define what that publication should be like based on your goals.
If you want to attract more leads and drive new conversions, what kind of content will be most attractive to your best prospects? Advice? Statistics? Case Studies? Should your blog content be formal or casual? Is your target industry highly professional or somewhat relaxed? Doing a blog right is about understanding what you can do strategically given the technical capabilities of a blog platform.
From our perspective, business blogging is as much lead generation science as it is a form of wordcraft. Check out our guide below for more advice on how to make your inbound marketing blog effective.