So. You need to start a blog for your enterprise company, huh? Maybe you’re a marketing leader and you need to brush up on what it’s going to take to start a corporate blog or maybe you’re someone in charge of leading this project and building out the whole blog strategy for your brand.
If that sounds like you, keep reading.
Firstly, you’re not alone – we’ve been working with Fortune 500s for almost a decade now and we’ve really seen it all. But what I’m about to cover is the process through which we’ve seen exceptional examples of blogs working well for an enterprise business in addition to my own personal experiences with creating a blog.
Start With Why
Simon Sinek is one of my favorite authors. He’s a favorite not only because of his incredibly famous TEDtalk about how Apple was able to achieve raving fans, but also because of his fundamental idea that businesses should really Start With Why.
His book, in fact, Start With Why, explores a few businesses and leaders and their success. They all started with why. We love his work so much that we included him a few times in this ultimate list of marketing, sales, and leadership books.
Now that you’ve decided that a blog is going to help your brand, determine exactly why you want to start one in the first place.
Is it because there’s a message you want to spread? Do you want to be helpful in some way? Do you want to highlight your customers or your products?
What is the ultimate reason you or your organization has decided to start this blog and why should anyone care about it?
Arke started this blog because we were driven by the need to educate the world on the new ideas and technologies that are emerging and shifting our paradigms of marketing and business.
The Home Depot created their blog because they wanted to help relieve the stress of any home project by explaining how they would do it – especially for certain personas they’re trying to target.
Hubspot, Kissmetrics, Copyblogger, and more are all champions for their respective niches, but most importantly, they want to inform and help a certain type of buyer in their everyday lives.
So what about you and your blog? Why are you starting it – and is it noble enough to warrant spending the time and investment on it?
If you can’t answer the why and feel really good about it, then you’re guaranteed to turn your readers off. You’re about to add to the noise and clutter of content marketing, so your why better be a rock-solid one!
Content Demand Generation Strategy
This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that building your content strategy is the next step, but I actually firmly believe that starting with your overall demand generation strategy with make the content part infinitely more focused.
Demand generation is the focus of targeted marketing programs to drive awareness and interest in a company’s products and/or services.
Or in other words, how does this marketing program fit into all of the other things you’ve got going on into the other sales and marketing programs/campaigns?
Thinking ahead in the future, what will all of this content do for you? What will it drive them to? What are the top 3 actions you want them to take after they find your content?
And after they consume the content, assuming it was intriguing, were they informed or educated enough to take a next step?
The number one failure of a corporate blog is that doesn’t lead the reader to take a next action or step into becoming a lead – perhaps it’s signing up for the upcoming webinar you’re hosting or perhaps it should link to the products you discussed in the post, or maybe there’s a call to action to join a group or like on social or what have you.
And then, of course, the other reason is their why just wasn’t strong enough.
In addition to demand generation, marketing and sales teams need to get together and discuss what happens when leads come from certain channels, and determine where they are along the buyer journey.
But since demand generation is primarily focused on awareness, it’s important to note that there are actually 5 stages of awareness:
When thinking about your blog, think about these stages of awareness and how your content might ultimately generate leads.
Creating Your Content Strategy
Now it’s time for the fun part.
After you decide what the demand generation strategy is and why you’re creating this in the first place, it’s time to do a little research.
We’re going to use Google, Google Trends, Ubersuggest, and a tool called Buzzsumo for starters. By now, your why and your demand generation strategy has already spun off some ideas about what your brand could produce content about.
Using those ideas – or keywords – start doing a little bit of research of seeing what’s out there with Google first. Also take note of what Google autocompletes when typing in your search.
Ubersuggest will give you tons of ideas on keywords to target – so maybe there’s a way of phrasing something you haven’t thought of before, but could easily use for future ideas.
Buzzsumo will give you information on what blog posts were most popular both from a keyword perspective and/or a domain perspective. Very powerful tool when comparing what was most shared in a respective topic.
Save the blog posts you thought were very successful. This will become a content swipe file that will grow into something powerful later. Also, take note in your swipe file of the headline or social post related to it and how it was written. This will be useful for titling future blog posts and leveraging the psychology behind copywriting.
That was just one keyword, though. But it hopefully got you warmed up.
The next exercise that we do at least once a quarter is to do a mind map or brainstorm on all the topics you could write about. And maybe not you specifically, but your brand. After exploring all the different veins and ideas and topics you could write about, do a bit of research using Google Trends for what seems to be on the rise and what has kind of died.
For the topics that seem to have a lot of potential, save them in your swipe file and label them with higher priority in some kind of way.
For the topics that didn’t seem to get much attention at all, save them also – you’ll come back to them if you find you can’t compete as well with the more popular topics.
As you go through this process, you’ll emerge with a massive swipe file (I’m envisioning an excel spreadsheet chock full of ideas and samples) and you’ll have an infinitely clearer vision about what you actually want to write about.
From here, you can start developing a content calendar. CMSwire.com has a great publicly available editorial calendar that shows readers both what they can expect to see and also what writers can write about.
You can get even more specific with actual headlines or specific post ideas after thinking about the big topics you’d like to tackle over the year (or maybe 6 months). But all in all, laying the foundation for the content you’d like to test and create will be useful in staying focused and keep it easy on your writers who need stucture.
(Trust me – you don’t want to be grasping at straws every time you miss a postingdeadline.)
Promoting the Blog and Posting Frequency
Trying to figure out how you’ll promote the blog and how often you should post is probably one of the most widely discussed, debated, and searched topics in regards to content marketing.
Well, there’s a lot of conflicting research, but I will say pretty confidently that posting frequency and blog promotion are heavily intertwined.
How do you expect to get your traffic? If it’s search, there’s evidence that posting 4-5 times a week actually improves your search results, but there’s also proof that not posting as frequently can work for you as long as your SEO game is on point.
If it’s email, then it really depends on how often you’re sending the email and how many posts you want to feature, if you think about it.
Perhaps it’s social media and you plan on sharing content through your Twitter, Facebook, and maybe even Pinterest channels. Depending on the medium, you might get more or less mileage, but it mostly depends on how many followers you have, who they are, and if they catch the content at the right time.
Thinking about the channel you expect to be leader will help you determine how much you’ll need to post to be relevant.
But most importantly, don’t take my word for it. TEST IT.
Choosing the Right Blog Technology
I think another surprising challenge that a lot of corporations have when deciding to pursue the content marketing route is what technology to use!
You might find that your current content management system doesn’t allow easily for a blog. Or perhaps you’re on WordPress and you’re perfectly poised to start one, but if you’re enterprise, it’s doubtful this is the case.
Chances are you’re on an enterprise CMS (or maybe something a little smaller than that) and starting a blog could mean having to code a whole set of new templates for the website and getting IT involved in some way and the process quickly becoming a huge project.
If that’s the case, no worries – it’s actually much more common than you think. Although I do suggest that if you’re in that boat, to consider doing some pretty in-depth research on your CMS to see if it could support a blog. Sometimes CMSes have module or plugins that can easily support something like that.
I’ve seen a lot of organizations actually start a WordPress blog with a special subdomain and then have front-end developers “skin” the WordPress site to make it look like the corporate website.
Do keep in mind, however, that starting a blog – especially ones where there are forms, marketing automation, and/or e-commerce capabilities – means that there are future points of integration you’ll need to consider.
It’s not something a lot of marketers or marketing leaders have a lot of foresight on, but I can tell you that on the opposite end, integrating everything would probably look a lot different if the client had planned a little better regarding their technologies.
This practice of really sitting down with your marketing and IT teams and discussing the possibilities is what we call digital strategy – and too often, it goes unplanned.
Formatting and Beauty Matters
The worst blogs?
The ones that look like this.
It’s kind of hard to believe there’s that much extra going on in the blog post. The text ends up being small and I imagine engagement is erratic because of how hard it is to read. And then, of course, it’s also just really distracting having literally all of your content piled onto the reader at once.
One thing they do get right, though, is formatting the actual content instead of using big blocky chunks of text like the below:
I love how clean and simple the design is, but automatically, I don’t want to read those big giant paragraphs of small text. Using simple formatting and breaking up the paragraphs into smaller sentences helps the reader skim effectively and efficiently.
That way, you give the reader a great experience, and you’re truly helpful, they leave your blog having remembered you and your brand and how they helped you.
All in all, formatting matters – a lot.
It keeps the reader engaged while you’re able to both educate, inform, and ultimately remove the barrier that the reader has with your brand.
A Quick Ode to SEO
Before I dig into this, if you need to brush on your SEO skills, I highly recommend everything Moz.com does to educate the masses on content and SEO and what it all means.
Strategically, however, SEO and content marketing go hand-in-hand. And because content can contribute search traffic for literally years, it’s important that the keywords and search terms you target are relevant and valuable to both you and your readers.
Imagine being a hot dog stand and you like to write about best hot dogs, your hot dogs, top 10 toppings for hot dogs, weird hot dogs, etc.
But every now and again, you like to write about tires. Yep. Tires. Like the kind on your car. And one day, one of your tire posts go viral. But you sell hot dogs. You don’t sell tires, but you like them. That’s a situation you’d mostly like to avoid – because that traffic from ranking for a post about tires aren’t as likely to convert into paying hot dog customers. Unless, of course, you delete it, but now you’ve wasted time.
Buffer, a social media management tool, actually has a great example of this and shared their own experiences. There was a good run for Buffer where they focused primarily on lifehacking and productivity and happiness – all topics that are very popular in all of our feeds. We’re always trying to figure out how to squeeze more out of every single day.
Fast-forward a few months and one of the posts about happiness goes viral. It did result in tons of people converting into free accounts and even paid accounts, but over time, that traffic for that particular content became less and less valuable to Buffer.
Today, Buffer wants to focus more on the bread and butter of what they actually do and can help with: social media.
All this to say – think about your SEO plan. Hire someone who can do it, outsource it, whatever. Just make sure someone’s really thinking about it in the grand scheme of things.
Building an All-Star Content Marketing Team
If you made it this far, you’re probably wondering who you need to hire or train into the role of a content marketer.
To be honest, the answer isn’t simple – it completely depends on your current team and if you have the capabilities, extra resources, ability to push for extra resources, annual budget, and so many other factors.
External factors aside, it also depends on how much you want to post and if it’s proven to be a fruitful practice for the business.
And of course, a lot of this is unknown without testing it first.
When I think about our clients, they all have mixed approaches. One produces all its content in-house with just one writer. Another has a team of writers and content marketers. Another outsources all of its content completely. One in particular already produces tons of content, so all they have to do is find someone who can repurpose it into blog form which is typically a marketer on the team.
Every company’s different.
For us, several people in the company contribute content, but we have one dedicated writer at all times who can produce upwards of 3 – 5 blog posts a week – which is a new frequency that we’re testing. :)
It completely depends on you and your team’s ability to produce content. My advice is to either find someone dedicated to writing, or pull a team of subject matter experts (SME) together who have strong opinions and ask them to write once or twice a month.
I only recommend outsourcing if you feel someone else could create exceptionally special and helpful content on behalf of you. But then again, if they aren’t a SME, then chances are low that they can be better.
Actually Start A Corporate Blog
Hopefully this blog post about starting a corporate blog (or just one in general) will help you in your content marketing pursuit.
But if you made it this far, it’s time to start executing on your plans and building something meaningful for both you and your brand.
Good luck, and good work!