Turn Your Blog Into A Learning Center To Win At Content Marketing
With the rise of business-blogging success in content marketing, it seems like every company has hopped on the bandwagon, which could be a great thing for audiences everywhere. Unfortunately, many companies are still missing the mark by using their blog as an extension of their product pages – just another place to talk about themselves.
The key to driving content marketing success through blogging is by turning your blog into a learning center instead of using it as a depository for additional information about purchasing your products or services.
Much of content marketing is about building trust with your audience. If your blog is really just another big advertisement for how awesome you think you are, you aren’t really giving your audience a reason to trust you – you’re just telling them they should.
In order to effectively reach your audience and build trust, you must break through the noise and help your audience by publishing high-quality educational and useful content.
It’s not enough to just be present – without the right information, you’re just another corporate blog.
Think about it. When you have a problem, what is the first thing you do? For many of us, the answer is the same: go to a search engine and enter a query. At this point in time, we have come to expect search engines to lead us to the answer in some way, shape or form. When your audience searches for help, you need to be the one to provide it, or else your competitors will.
It may seem counterintuitive to provide this wealth of information on your blog for free, instead of trying to use that real estate to actually sell your product or service – but the hard sell is not what content marketing is all about.
I’m not saying you should give away your “secret sauce,” just that helping your audience can go a long way in building trust and in turn, a strong customer base. As Jay Baer says in his book Youtility, “Sell something, and you make a customer. Help someone, and you make a customer for life.”
When you help a potential customer solve a simple problem without asking for anything in return, you give them a reason to think of you the next time they have a similar issue – perhaps one they can’t fix on their own. As a result, turning your blog into a learning center can be more advantageous than publishing posts full of self-promotion.
Making The Transformation
To get started with turning your blog into a learning center, you must find out what your audience needs help with.
Identify Pain Points
The first step in providing your audience with helpful information is finding out what it is that they actually want to know. What are the pain points of potential customers? There are many ways to find out. Consider the following:
- Through Your Employees. Ask your sales team what problems or frustrations often come up in customer discussions. What questions are asked over and over? What is confusing to customers that you could explain better?
- On Your Website. Many websites have a search bar, where visitors can manually search for something if they can’t find it on their own. Look at the queries that are being entered. What are the most entered searches? Is there anything that visitors search for that you don’t address on your site at all?
- Ask The Audience. Come right out and ask your audience! If possible, create a survey, or post something less formal on your social profiles. It couldn’t be any more straightforward; simply ask your audience what their biggest pain point is, or what information they would like to see featured on your blog.
When you’re researching a purchase decision and are wavering between two companies, what is the most useful piece of information you could have? For many people, that would be a candid comparison between the two companies up for consideration.
Though this type of content is incredibly useful, many businesses shy away from directly equating themselves to their competitors, afraid of drawing attention to what their product or service doesn’t do. But, if it truly is a product or service you don’t offer, that will become apparent to the visitor anyway – be it on other pages of your website or on a call with a salesperson.
With comparison content, you have an opportunity to be helpful and build trust through transparency. Don’t be afraid to compare yourself to your competitors and provide unbiased analysis on your blog – your audience will thank you for it.
Publish Quality Content
With the above in mind, begin crafting quality content for your blog.
Though you may be thinking about your content and how you present it with more of a focus on educational material, many traditional blogging best practices still apply, including:
- Format: Consider the content type – what is the most helpful way to display the information?
- Organization: Be sure your blog is organized in a way that makes sense to the user, through categories and tagging.
- Titles: As always, blog post titles are extremely important. Think about how a prospective customer would search.
- Images: When publishing helpful content, images can be very powerful. Skip the stock photos and include charts, graphs and diagrams that provide color to the post, while still being useful.
Though businesses continue to adopt content marketing through blogging, many utilize blog posts as another place to sell and self-promote. However, as people have embraced online research to fuel purchase decisions, businesses would be better off using their blog as a learning center to help educate and provide unbiased information to their audience.
What is your experience with publishing helpful content on your blog? Let me know in the comment section below.
Image credit: Whole Foods, Mowers Direct and Vertical Measures
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.