Blogging can be one of the most potent tools in your marketing arsenal. Quality blog posts can help you build brand trust, grow your audiences, and make more sales.
But each post vies with millions of others for the attention of would-be readers. Just how fierce is the competition? The stats say bloggers publish more than 4.4 million new posts — each day.
Simply filling pages with words isn’t going to draw traffic, grow your audience, or deliver a return on investment (ROI).
You need to follow these five best practices to build a successful blog:
- Know Your Blog Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Understand Your Target Audiences
- Publish Consistently
- Create a Dual Readership Path
- Craft Clear Calls-To-Action
With these practices, you can elevate your blog above the sea of online content published every day. You’ll become a trusted authority with devoted followers who promote your brand.
1. Know Your Blog’s Key Performance Indicators
Skilled bloggers don’t guess which posts and topics resonate with their audiences. They know.
You can too, by tracking content marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) for each post. With KPIs, you’ll understand which posts gain attention and increase conversion rates — and you can use that insight to create others like them.
What should you track?
Here are three essential blog KPI categories to know:
#1 Consumption Metrics
With these metrics, you’ll know if you’re drawing readers to your blog, where that traffic is coming from (e.g. organic traffic, social media, email campaigns, referral sites, etc.), and whether or not you are successfully capturing people’s attention.
For each blog post, you should track:
- Number and source of unique visitors
- Number of views for each post
- Length of time spent on the page
- Bounce rate for each post
#2 Engagement Metrics
The ultimate goal of all your marketing efforts is turning leads into sales. With lead generation metrics, you can know how your blog posts contribute to that aim.
Here you should measure:
- Number of blog comments
- Social media shares
#3 Lead Generation Metrics
Finally, these are the metrics that matter most because they tell you if your marketing efforts are turning traffic into leads and ultimately into paying customers (sales). With lead generation metrics, you can know how your blog posts contribute to that aim.
Specifically, you should measure:
- Content downloads
- Conversions and sales
2. Relate To Your Target Audiences
Once you’ve built a KPI-based foundation, you can focus on content. But your goal is not to write what you want to say — it’s to write what your audience wants to read.
Start by visiting top-rated pages related to your topic. Pay special attention to the comments section on top blog posts or articles. Also, take a peek at Q&A sites like Quora or user forums like Reddit.
What questions are top-of-mind for the readers you want to attract? What concerns and needs do they have?
These reader insights will help you understand how to make your post stand out. You’ll see what content exists and what it does and doesn’t answer for readers.
Then, you can ask yourself: How can I improve on what’s already been said? If you can offer an engaging voice or a unique perspective, you’ll win over readers.
Answer their questions. Address their pain points. That way, you’ll show your audience that their needs are the motivation behind your blog. They’ll pay attention to your ideas and keep coming back for more — and your content marketing ROI will climb.
3. Publish Consistently
Imagine that you’ve found a compelling blog with content that speaks to you. You look forward to the author’s next post, but it takes weeks to arrive. Are you still paying attention? Most likely not.
Without question, having a predictable stream of content is crucial for growing an audience. Publishing consistently establishes your credibility and authority. Your audience starts to see you as a reliable resource for knowledge.
Regular posting also helps build brand trust and awareness. People need multiple touches to recognize your brand — and even more to internalize your core messages.
Once you’re an established blog resource, readers become more likely to share your content with others. They’ll also convert from readers into a customer at increased rates since you’ve earned their trust through reading your blog.
4. Create a Dual Readership Path
While you want people to read every word of each carefully crafted blog post, nearly half skim blog posts rather than read them, especially if they’re new visitors to your site.
Cater to people’s tendency to skim online content by creating a dual readership path — when you create content that appeals to scanners and readers so that everyone walks away with something of value.
For scanners, architect your content so that they get your message by skimming. Ideally, they’ll see enough value to read your complete piece. That’s the first path.
And the second? Include enough depth for people who read each word.
Your mission blog post is to create content that is both scannable and deep. But how? Copyblogger suggests these tactics to boost scannability:
✓ Use White Space
Don’t use big blocky text. It’s hard to read. Instead, aim for short sentences, short paragraphs, and ample white space.
✓ Break Up Content With Subheads
Readers may feel intimidated by long passages. With subheads, they can quickly get critical messages and skip around to suit their reading needs.
✓ Use Bulleted Lists
Lists call attention to content and break up text blocks. The result: improved readability.
✓ Add Relevant Links
Links demonstrate that you’ve backed up your marketing ideas with research.
✓ Use Strategic Formatting
Too much formatting can be overwhelming, but a touch of italics, bold, or color can create visual appeal and attract the eye.
✓ Use Numbers
Numbers stand out in a line of text; one reason why stats are so powerful in writing.
These techniques highlight your content and draw visitors in. They give people a feel for your message and help them decide if they’re going to invest the time to read your post.
After a while, you’ll convert more scanners into readers and build an engaged audience.
5. Craft Clear Calls-To-Action
If you’ve done the hard work of getting people to your post, you will want to build a relationship with them. Make it easy for visitors to take the next step with CTAs that motivate action.
Think through what you want visitors to do. Maybe you want them to sign up for email updates or download a lead magnet. Both actions convert an anonymous visitor into a subscriber who has permitted you to communicate with them.
Another marketing idea is to ask people to follow you or share your content on social media. Or you can guide them to other posts or pages that may be of interest to keep them on your site.
It’s common to see a CTA at the end of a post or on sidebars. You’ve probably also encountered CTAs that slide in from the side or hover over posts. You can use in-line CTAs, such as internal links or simple callouts embedded in the body content.
Although you don’t want to overwhelm your visitors, you can add several CTA in each post. With a smart CTA strategy, you will gain more subscribers, increase conversion rates, and see ROI.
Make Your Blog a Powerful Content Marketing Asset
For many businesses, a blog is the anchor of their content marketing strategy. It’s the place on their website that’s updated most frequently and the fuel behind their social outreach. That’s why it’s vital to craft a blog that delivers a clear and measurable ROI.
Start with a foundation of KPIs that provide data on what content works for your audience. Study your audience to know what they want to read; then deliver high-quality content consistently.
When you craft posts, create content that allows visitors to get the message from a quick scan. You must provide enough substance to make a full read worth their while. Once you’ve gotten readers’ attention, tell them how to take the next steps with clear CTAs.
When you have these elements in place, you’ll start building an engaged blog following. Those loyal readers can become customers and brand champions that spark the next chapter of your business growth.
Editor’s Note: The article is part of the blog series Grow Your Business, brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners.