Do You *Really* Need a Blog?


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Blog content is not the only content you need.

Everyone.has.a.blog. Everyone. Dogs, babies, ornery cats, pet rocks–everyone. Wherever you go online you’re DROWNING in content and it’s out of hand and, honestly, consumers are starting to get really tired of it. Today we’re going to be talking about other content you can create to get conversions.

Before I delve too deeply into today’s topic I want to say, first and foremost, that I am a content person.From my formative years of writing comic strips about a sassy owl named Anna to the journalism I did in my 20s to the more professional writing I’ve been doing the past 10 years–I am a content person through and through and truly believe in the power of content marketing.

That being said: not everyone needs a blog.

 

Blogs are cool but have you tried gated content?

 

Gated content is content behind a form fill. You’ll often see ebooks, white papers, guides, and special research reports before a form fill and, more than likely, you have filled out a form to get this type of gated content.

 

eBooks


While blogs provide shorter and easily scannable content, eBooks allow your business to dive deeper into a topic of interest for the benefit of your target audience. They’re a good way to demonstrate your knowledge of industry-related issues, dissect relevant subject data with longer form content, and provide a finished product that is both polished and well designed.

If you’re looking to establish yourself as an authority in your industry, eBooks are an excellent way of demonstrating this expertise.

Pros:

  • You can use ebooks to target specific target audiences with hyper-relevant and long-form content on a specific subject matter.
  • eBooks are considered premium content, and behind a form fill, they’ll help you expand your lead database.
  • If you have an opt-in button in the form fill to receive other information, like your newsletter or updates, this is another channel you can capture more leads for your nurture campaigns.
  • eBooks can provide a lot of content for social posts–use infographics, quotes, and stats from the ebook to tease the finished product and drive form fills/downloads.
  • If well-written, they’re an excellent sales tool! Let your leads educate themselves using your expertise and present yourself as a trusted authority.

Cons:

  • They are time-consuming– often 8-15 pages, an ebook can take a while to write and if you’re marketing team is small, you may not have the bandwidth to get it done in a timely fashion.
  • eBooks should be designed well and not just made from a free template! Trying to force your content into a pre-made design can detract from what you’re trying to say. This often requires design expertise that smaller teams may not have.

 

Case Studies

A case study is a kind of like a minieBook. It’s usually 2-4 pages and not as focused on design and storytelling. A case study is often a simple look at how a problem was solved. Broken down it usually flows like this: Client A had a problem, these are the things we did to solve that problem, here are the results of that problem-solving. Pretty simple but very effective, and, in a lot of cases, you’ve probably been asked to furnish them as part of the prospect cycle.

Case studies are important because they don’t just showcase what you know, they focus on what you’ve actually done! A company can talk all day about the cool stuff they can do, but a case study puts real, quantifiable data behind your claims.

There are some philosophical discussions on whether or not this content should be gated–one camp says “No, let your prospects see the results for themselves” and the other camp says “Yes, duh, let’s get that lead info so we can follow up!”  If you have lead tracking set up through automation tools this becomes kind of a moot issue because you can track your opted-in leads through the site but if you don’t, it may be the only way you can get insight into who is interested in your info!

 

Pros:

  • Short, relatively easy to write.
  • Case studies come in many forms and can focus on one tactic or an entire strategy which leaves a lot of flexibility depending on how old or new your company is.
  • Case studies are GREAT sales tools and can often help clinch a deal–by showing you’ve provided real results for real clients, you’re not just sharing cool ideas, you’re providing hard data.

 

Cons:

  • It takes expertise in the process to create a good case study, not everyone has a person who can pick and choose the correct metrics and subjects for a case study.
  • While it doesn’t take as much time as an ebook, case studies do require time, editing, and care.

 

Research Guides

A research guide can be something like an end of year report or an in-depth look at a market segment or trend. Normally, these are a BIG undertaking and requires a lot of research, time, and energy to complete well. BUT, done correctly? It can put your business on the map with a whole new audience.

 

The key to a research guide is planning and understanding. A successful research guide is one that takes your target audience into account and provides them with information they can’t get anywhere else. This often involves polls, surveys, and in-depth research that’s not free to do. Tools like SurveyMonkey, Scarborough, and Forrester (there are many others, too!) are all paid tools you can use to gather real data and provide valuable information to your target audience.

 

Pros:

  • This is an in-depth, premium piece of content that no one can imitate because it’s information you gathered from your research.
  • A research paper or guide provides a very unique perspective and insight into a popular topic that can be used to leverage your authority and win the respect of prospects.
  • This type of content can be a critical sales tool used to showcase not just your expertise but your tenacity and know-how. However, creating this type of content is NOT easy!

Cons:

  • There’s a lot of work needed to go into the creation of this type of content. Creative and marketing know-how is needed and may not be present.
  • This undertaking can be expensive if you don’t already possess the tools needed to create this type of content and do this research.

Your website content is more than blog posts

Your website content is the content that everyone who visits your site (and the spiders that crawl it) understand your business and what you do. Being too clever, vague, or even too forward can scare leads away and once they’re gone the likelihood of getting them back is slim to none.

 

Blog posts are not a substitute for website copy! While blogs are a great way to constantly create new native content, it’s not necessarily how your leads learn about your business. This is why you need long form and diverse types of website content–give the Google spiders something to crawl and give your leads and customers a way to educate themselves and interact with your brand.

 

FUN FACT: most consumers read 5-7 pieces of content before they reach out to a company or make a purchase.

 

Here are 3 different types of website content you can (and should) add to your site if you don’t already have it (and if you do, I bet it’s time to optimize and refresh it!):

 

Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages

 

We covered topic cluster methodology in another blog but the summary is this:  this is a unique, content-driven way of drawing traffic to your website. A topic cluster is essentially a clever way of breaking down a broad topic into specific categories. Because your target audience may search for a specific sub-topic under a broader category, you can group all these sub-topics as smaller constituent pages of a parent web page (or pillar page).

 

From the pillar page, you can create content under specific areas related to the pillar page. For example, you may have a main page about air conditioning. Under the sub-topics, you may have sections that cover types of air conditioners, air conditioning maintenance, repairs, working mechanisms, etc.

 

The benefit of using topic clusters is that you can attract lots of traffic to land on a single page. From there, they can easily navigate to their sections of interest. Topic clusters also make your site look cleaner and easier to navigate. But wait, there’s more! Pillar pages also help you rank organically for your keyword phrases more quickly because you’re driving a lot of traffic to a page that people will spend more time reading and clicking around on–all main components for an A+ SEO strategy.

 

Pros:

  • This long form content helps you rank more quickly for keyword phrases.
  • Pillar pages and topic clusters give you the chance to create engaging, long-form content on your site that is very valuable to your prospects and leads.
  • These types of pages allow for several different types of content to live together in perfect harmony.

Cons:

  • Like other forms of content we’ve talked about–it takes time, research, and bandwidth.
  • If not done correctly, a pillar page can turn into an ugly, hard-to-navigate mess.

 

FAQ Pages

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pages are a keyword goldmine! They come in handy when creating product pages, service descriptions, and for providing new information to your target audience. Rather than displaying content in long paragraphs within blogs and eBooks, FAQs break down your content into an easily scannable format. Readers can navigate to the specific question they need answered, thus saving time and effort for both them and your employees.

Pros:

  • FAQ pages give you the chance to prevent calls, texts, and chats from prospects and clients asking the same, basic questions.
  • These pages empower users to educate themselves.
  • There is a lot of opportunity for keyword optimization through the content on these pages.

Cons:

  • This page should be constantly evolving as your products and services evolve–this can be hard to maintain with a small team.

 

Testimonials

“I love Envision’s blog. It is the best blog in the world and I think whoever writes it is a genius.” –Michelle Courtright

So, maybe a quote from me about my writing prowess isn’t the most objective testimonial but, quotes from clients can be crucial in helping convince others to try your product or service for themselves. Testimonials are a more subtle form of customer referrals, and they essentially give your prospective customers a glimpse into your products and services. As marketers, we can market all day, every day but consumers want to hear what real customers have to say (haven’t you noticed how many sites now have reviews?!?!).

 

Pros:

  • Testimonials are a great way to establish your expertise and show your track record of success.
  • Testimonials can be anything from one line to a whole paragraph–which means they’re rather easy!
  • Happy customers are usually pretty happy to drop a line or two as long as you make it easy for them.

Cons:

  • You might not like what you get back. This is actually kind of a pro on one hand–if you get a testimonial back from a client, you can talk to them about their experience and find ways to make it right.

 

 

Now that I’ve gone through all of this: DO you need a blog?

 

The final answer is….maybe not. Both B2B and B2C businesses can benefit greatly from a blog if they have a product or service that lends itself to constant native content creation. For example: as long as there is marketing and design, I’ll always have something to write about, stats to share, and stories to tell but that’s not everyone. If you work with clients who are government or military entities, you may not be able to discuss all of the things you do, if you’re a financial institution, it may be risky to share your secret sauce.

Long story short: If you’re limited by bandwidth or work in an industry that’s just not conducive to consistent, long-form content publishing–there are other ways to create a content strategy and use that strategy to get more leads. EBooks, testimonials, pillar pages–oh, my! Whatever you do, just make sure it’s useful to your user.

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