Blogging for Brands: How to Build a Business Blog to Generate Leads
It seems like everyone has a blog these days. Blogs are the new business card: they show the rest of the online world what you’re about, and why they should pay attention. What initially began as hobbyists writing about their own interests for like-minded readers has evolved into an incredibly powerful marketing tool for businesses, and a valuable place for brands to connect with the consumer.
However, many business blogs seem to exist just for the sake of it, and are only updated every so often with promotional content or news about the company. According to HubSpot, companies that publish at least 16 blog posts per month got about 4.5 times more leads than companies that only published four or less. So, when done right, brands can turn their blog into a valuable resource that attracts high-quality leads.
In this guide, we’ll show you 10 ways to maximise your business blog’s lead generation potential.
1. Host your blog on your site
Make sure that your blog is situated on your main website, not on a separate domain, and make sure it’s very clearly signposted on your homepage. This gives visitors a reason to engage with you in a less sales-threatening way, as well as find out what you represent as a brand. This also ensures that external links to your blog from other sources benefit your main site (and vice versa), which helps bump you up in search engine results. The easier you are to find (i.e. the closer you are to the top results), the better.
2. Work with influencers
Partnering up with influencers on your blog is a great way to drum up new leads for your business. It’s up to you to figure out the best kind of collaboration: it could come in the form of an article, opinion piece, video, infographic or other type of content. It’s also up to you to find the right people to work with: this may take some trawling through industry resources (including social media like LinkedIn or Twitter) but once you start building up a network of collaborators, it will be much easier to find more.
For example, we regularly produce content such as blog articles and webinars in collaboration with a number of CEOs, consultants, authors and other influential figures in the B2B community. Not only does this make for relevant and thought-provoking content for our GoToMeeting audience, but it allows us to reach new prospects through our speaker’s existing fan base.
If you’re wondering how to reach out to these influencers, here is an example of a good outreach email:
Start by addressing them by name – ‘Dear Edward,’ not ‘Hi there’ or ‘To whom it may concern’ – then introduce yourself and the project. Specify exactly how you’d like them to contribute, and perhaps include a reference for their benefit. For example, in the above outreach email, we linked to a similar type of blog post so the recipient could get a sense of our work. When in doubt, keep it short and to the point – you don’t want someone to disregard your offer simply because they couldn’t be bothered to read a novel-length email!
3. Create content that answers a question
Your blog shouldn’t be an extension of your sales floor: make sure whatever you post has actual value for your readers, whether they’re familiar with your business or not. By creating content around the sorts of questions your target audience might be asking, you’re positioning your business as an authority within the industry, as well as boosting your authority with search engines. Content that helps to inform rather than sell will help build trust between your company and your readers, and will encourage more reader interaction such as signing up to your newsletter or providing their email address to unlock a piece of content.
So how do you find these questions? How do you know what your audience is searching for? Forums like Quora and social media platforms like Twitter are two great places to start. They allow you to browse certain topics and see what kinds of questions users are asking. For example, GoToMeeting frequently produces content around collaboration. A quick search in Quora for ‘collaboration tools’ brings up threads with questions like, ‘What’s the best online project management software for a startup?’, ‘what are the best practices for remote collaboration with UI designers?’, etc. These are good starting points when formulating your content strategy. (For more tips on finding audience questions, we recommend you read this article from the Content Marketing Institute).
Don’t worry about creating top-quality content all yourself: if you find an article/video/blog post that says exactly what you’re trying to say, re-use it – just make sure you cite your source and provide a link back to the original piece. Sharing content from other industry leaders is also a way to help build your network of influencers and collaborators.
4. Gate your content
Asking readers to submit their contact details to gain access to a specific piece of content is a great way to gather high-quality leads. This gives you more insight into who is interested in what for a more targeted follow-up. However, gating all of your content could be a turn-off for most readers, so be selective: try gating larger pieces, such as case studies, webinar recordings or research.
Here’s one of our own eBook examples – ‘How to Manage Extroverts, Introverts and Ambiverts in Meetings’. As you can see, we’ve listed four bullet point summaries about the book to pique the reader’s interest, and what skills they stand to gain if they provide their contact details to download.
Another creative example is HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016. This gated report, which is all about the latest in inbound marketing and sales, is actually an interactive microsite with videos, stats and lots of bright graphics. Although this is definitely not the simplest way to gate your content, it’s a good example of a creative and informative way to encourage users to sign up.
5. Have a ‘Call To Action’
A CTA, or Call To Action, is a great way to gain leads from your blog. These usually come in the form of a small window that slides on screen as you scroll, a banner that sits at the top or bottom of the page, or even a sentence within the post itself. As you can see with one of our own pop-ups, we’ve kept the messaging simple so we don’t overwhelm the reader, and we’ve demonstrated exactly what the reader stands to benefit from signing up.
6. Offer content summaries
No matter how relevant or newsworthy a certain post is, if it’s too time-consuming to digest, most readers won’t bother to unlock it. Offering a summary and key points – then a gated download – is the perfect solution, as it gives the busy reader an idea of the content. It’s also a great way to provide the reader with a sense of the value they will receive by providing their details to you.
Here’s one of our own examples, taken from our whitepaper ‘How Top Managers Energise and Motivate Employees’.
These snippets provide enough for a busy reader to get actual value from them. Then, if they want more detailed information, they can go one step further and plug in their details for the full download.
7. Keep an eye on the comments section
Depending on the levels of traffic your blog receives and how many subscribers you’ve got, chances are the comments section is a potential goldmine for lead generation. You can gauge what blog topics get people talking and what kind of content is receiving the most engagement. Reply with a genuinely useful answer or comment (not just ‘buy our product! here’s the link!’). For example, if someone comments on a blog post about customer retention, you could reply with a link to a relevant resource – say, a webinar about customer retention strategies, whitepaper, case study or other gated piece of content.
8. Promote your blog elsewhere
Talk about your blog across other platforms to drive traffic and increase awareness. A great place to do so is on your company’s social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. Lead generation from LinkedIn was successful for 65% of B2B companies (compared to Twitter [12.73%] and Facebook [6.73%]). You can also include a section in your newsletter about your business blog, inciting users to sign up to receive more exclusive content.
9. Test, test, test
Arguably one of the most effective ways to maximise your blog’s lead generation potential is to A/B test different methods and compare the results. You could be sticking to one format without realising it isn’t getting as many conversions or as much engagement as it could be. Play around where you place your ‘Call To Action’ banners – see if banners placed above the fold work more effectively, try different messaging, and experiment with imagery. In this way you can keep your blog fresh and relevant, as well as maximise its potential to attract high-quality leads.
10. Don’t forget to follow up
It’s important to have a follow-up strategy to get the most out of those leads generated from your blog. Timing is of the essence: don’t go straight for the sell, since you can’t be sure of a user’s motivation for inputting their information to gain access to a piece of content. Perhaps they only needed one of your data sets to supplement an article they were writing. Perhaps they aren’t interested in your product yet, but they will be a few months down the line.
Start by drip-feeding them content to drive them back to your site and keep you front of mind in a non-threatening way. For example, you could send a brief email newsletter highlighting some of your recent blog features or you could offer them related content to their original download. That way, this gives you a simple, non-aggressive way to continue engaging with them and hopefully nurture them from a prospect to a high-quality lead.
For more resources to help you create great blog content that will get you those high-quality leads, here are some of our favourite blogs that regularly post about lead generation, content marketing and more:
HubSpot (both for marketers and salespeople)
Instapage (covering everything from Facebook advertising to marketing agency tips)
Hootsuite (this is more about social media, but can be useful for learning more about collaborating with online influencers)
Content Marketing Institute (CMI) (full of articles, whitepapers, research and more on everything from building your audience to measurement and ROI).
Kissmetrics (has great resources about testing and analytics)
Discover a wealth of informative and insightful content on this and related topics
at our blog: blog.gotomeeting.com
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