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09 Dec 2014

Blogging For Business: Become a Learning Center

As blogging continues to grow exponentially, companies across industries have adopted business blogging as a form of content marketing. According to HubSpot, companies that blog 15+ times a month get 5 times more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all. Unfortunately, many companies are taking the wrong approach to business blogging by focusing on quantity over quality and leveraging the real estate as an additional place to sell.

For content marketing to truly make an impact, businesses have to build trust with their audience. Blogging presents an opportunity to build trust by providing an outlet to publish quality content on a regular basis. However, many businesses waste this opportunity to get in front of their audience and influence purchase decisions through content by focusing solely on them and even the hard sell.

To achieve content marketing success through business blogging, companies must treat their blog as a learning center for their audience. Rather than focusing on the number of posts written each month and using the blog to constantly self-promote, businesses should think of their blog as a place to help, entertain, and educate their audience through content.

So, how does a business go about making the transformation? Here is my advice on how to get started turning your business blog into a learning center:

1. Think about it from a consumer point of view

Blogging iconJust for a second, take your “marketer” hat off, and think like a consumer. As a consumer, when you have a problem or need a question answered, what is typically the first thing you do? You most likely look up your issue or question online to find the information you need. And many times you find it, instantly.

We have come to expect to be able to solve our problems and get the answers to our questions through a simple Internet search. We trust search engines to lead us to the answer somewhere, somehow, and we begin to trust the sources that provide the information we are looking for.

However, we also experience total frustration when it doesn’t happen. When no one has posted something that will help answer your question. When your audience needs help and uses the Internet to research, it’s your job to be the one what provides it, and turning your blog into a learning center is a step in that direction.

2. Find out what your audience wants to know

In order to provide your audience with the information they need, you must understand what it is they want to know. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are customer (current and potential) pain points? Ask your sales and customer service reps to share the most frequently asked questions.
  • What area of the business is confusing? Some industries are just confusing by nature (think taxes, insurance, etc.). Your blog is a great place to break things down into layman’s terms and help your audience understand even the most complicated issues.
  • What are your competitors doing? Find out by doing a bit of your own research, and provide similar information – but in a better way.
  • Where are the gaps? While looking at competitor content, look for content gaps, and fill them with your own content

3. Be prepared to be transparent

Transparency in marketing is tough to come by, though it often provides the best customer experience. When people research products and services online, there are certain types of information they will be looking for – no matter what. When deciding between two or more options, people want to compare features, drawbacks, and often most importantly, price.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t want to draw attention to competitor comparisons, for a number of reasons. Perhaps it is because competitor offerings have better features, and they don’t want to call that out. Or maybe it’s because competitors offer a better deal, or have newer products, or better technology, etc.

Hubspot vs WordPress

But the truth is, your audience is going to find all of that out anyway if they are doing thorough research. Though comparison content isn’t often created by businesses themselves, it is exactly the type of information your audience is looking for. Because of this, comparison content is precisely type of information you should consider sharing on your blog to build trust through transparency.

4. Focus on quality, not quantity

Though posting more often may lead to more traffic initially, you must take other metrics into consideration, like time on page and bounce rate. If you generate lots of traffic to your blog but no one stays to consume the information or click to other pages, that traffic metric means nothing.

To combat this, focus your business blogging efforts on creating content of quality, not quantity. And by quality content, I mean content that is well researched, easy to consume and helpful in some way. Don’t obsess over the number of posts you create (though having an editorial calendar with a regular publishing schedule is recommended) or blog post word count. Concentrate on creating great content that is useful to your audience.

As a learning center, your blog should be a place where your audience goes to learn. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with it. There are ways to create content that is entertaining, but also educational. Additionally, try to tie your business to current events or pop culture, as that can make content easily relatable but also relevant.

Though turning your business blog into a learning center can take a lot of work and may even require a change in mindset, it is truly the best for your audience – the people who can make or break your business. Think about it from their point of view, find out what it is they want to know, and provide that information on your blog. As consumers continue to research purchase decisions online, businesses that turn their blogs into learning centers will be the brands that build trust, and in turn, succeed with content marketing.