Let’s assume you’ve accepted the wisdom of building a business blog and have committed to fund the site buildout & resource ongoing blogging with a permanent editor. Now you must start down the path of securing a blogging template or designer to create one from scratch. As a matter of fact, take a step back and decide whether that blog will reside on a separate domain (not preferred), where it will be hosted (if external), what platform will be used (WordPress please), define the role of your editor (social, seo, graphics, etc.), choose topics, build an editorial calendar, and prioritize KPI’s (key performance indicators) then connect analytics so you know what works.
Some choose to use the platform as a news and announcements rundown. Others prefer to let outside viewers in on the day-to-day developments and goings on around the office. Some nail a proper mixture of both. Any way you present it, your company’s blog should provide an underlying message targeted directly at consumers. Whether it’s the “We’re the fun folks you should do business with because we’re awesome!” or the “We’re very serious people, who do serious things, so come and do serious business with us.” you’re seeking to support a position. TheNexWeb – Key Elements for Business Blogs
Lay out the building blocks to fully understand the materials list:
- Domain Name: Ideally the company blog should reside within a folder like /blog/ on your existing company domain name. This is the preferred method and leads to the most benefits overall, including SEO, brand building, single company voice & mission, etc. However, sometimes due to technology issues or security concerns, a new domain is chosen and hosted externally (see item #2 below). If you must go this direction, it’s far better than forgoing the blog altogether – do it externally if you must and reserve a great domain name. Choose a registrar that you have used previously and reserve that domain after researching and brainstorming with your team.
- Hosting: Again, best to do this on your existing host on your own domain, but should you need to host externally, it is best to keep control of that hosting and not give in to the platform as default host. Best NOT to use SquareSpace or WordPress.com for hosting and instead use a generic business hosting service that gives you full control of FTP, plug-ins, templates, frameworks and software add-ons. You will eventually regret lack of control if you cede it to your hosting provider.
- Platform: WordPress only – after 15 years of watching services fail and suddenly go dark after you’ve committed to their very slowly evolving or suddenly disappeared software. WordPress powers over 60% of all blogs online for very good reason. The Open Source platform with rapidly evolving ecosystem and constant updates to the power and flexibility of the toolset are unmatched by the also-rans. Download the free, open-source, PHP powered software, FTP it to your server, connect it to your database, attach a preferred low-cost framework and template, customize with your business identity, colors and logo – then start blogging. That list may sound a bit long, but is far shorter than the alternative custom one-offs.
- Editor: This role is among your most crucial steps and must be fully considered. You’ll need to find one very talented individual who will spend a large chunk of time writing, editing, interviewing, creating title graphics, posting to social media (and possibly email) promotions, responding to comments (and emptying spam comments), updating WordPress core and plug-ins as they are released, interlinking product URLs, finding guest bloggers, reviewing products, posting infographics & videos, etc. So if you have that talented person on staff, congratulations! If those tasks will be distributed among staff and freelancers, all good – but this must be coordinated by your trusted editor. Still an important role with a list of very necessary organizational skills.
- Choose Topics: This may seem obvious when you launch a company blog – that you’ll discuss company products and mission. However there must be a chosen goal, as in more sales, more subscribers, more engagement, improved SEO – no, it’s all of the above. If you’ve chosen to make it about sales, then you’ll obviously be discussing and reviewing products and/or services your company provides and deep-linking to them in your shop or link to the top of the sales funnel (white papers, PDF sales sheets, contact forms). Most companies tend toward engagement of some type, encouraging discussion through comments or seeking social actions such as sharing or liking. Some B2C blogs may start a branded hashtag campaign on social media or sweepstakes entries via marketing partnerships and PR efforts. Your approach will require consistency and long-term commitment to produce results. Choose the approach that you hope will work best to win customers in the end.
- Editorial Calendar: Engage your editor in this crucial task and plan out quarterly or twice yearly editorial calendars which account for your business focus and consider seasonality factors. Consider holidays, sales & promotions, events, industry awards, and how each will fit business strategy – then craft outlines for posts. Allow for some flexibility to deal with possible business crises, acquisitions, executive staff hire announcements, and other potential interruptions and unplanned events. Build each post around consistent structured elements (always a call-out quote, always product deep-links, always social promotions, etc.) If any posts are built around long-term projects, update your audience regularly in this calendar as well.
- Analytics Platform: Make your analytics track all goals such as product sales, leads, email collection, subscribers, downloads and contact forms so that you can analyze what is working and what needs work. Adjust your KPIs by regularly reviewing traffic data, page visits per session, time on site, conversion ratios (goals). Make sure to review site errors, page load speeds, percentage of mobile traffic (and sales) so the data monster is constantly fed and traffic goals stretched.
Let’s do this! Contact us for any or all of the above if your staff is already stretched too thin.