Blogging has historically been a great strategy to build awareness, credibility and act as a potential source of qualified leads over the long term. Given the current COVID-19 environment, it’s important now more than ever to remain visible with clients and prospects, and provide your point of view during this complicated time. As with any marketing strategy, it’s important to plan ahead. Here are seven tips to get you started:
1. Do you like to write? Ask yourself if writing is something you enjoy. If you don’t like to write, don’t do it. A blog allows you to share your unique POV, in your own voice, directly to your clients and prospects. The process of writing a blog allows you to get your thoughts on paper and respond to frequently asked questions from your clients. If you enjoy writing, then you’ll look forward to blogging, rather than seeing it as a chore!
2. Who are you writing for? Make sure your blog is centered on topics your clients and prospects care about. One quick way to generate topic ideas is to log the questions you are already receiving from clients. The purpose of your blog should be to educate your target market on topics they are interested in learning about with a POV you want to be known for.
3. Talk to compliance early. To ensure a smooth process, talk to your compliance team early. Review your blog strategy, share an editorial calendar and ask the following questions:
- What disclosures will be required?
- Are there any topics or keywords you should avoid?
- Can you include video?
- Can you agree upon a standard time frame for reviews?
- Can you obtain approval for the blog to be distributed via social, email and print?
- Are you required to turn off comments?
4. Establish an editorial calendar Your editorial calendar should outline how frequently you plan on posting, the topics you plan to write about, format and themes. What’s the right cadence you can commit to? How many posts will you need to author within a three-month period? Remember, it’s best to focus on quality content versus quantity (once a week is ideal). Zone in on topics that you know your audience cares about and that you want to be known for. If your focus is small-business owners, then topical categories may include: exit planning, qualified plans, or buy/sell agreements. By outlining your topics in advance, you ensure articles don’t overlap. This creates diversity across posts. To help your blogs maintain relevancy, peg your posts to holidays, seasonality or cultural events. This means writing blogs that connect to what’s happening now. Rotating the format will keep content fresh. Instead of a traditional article, consider a Q&A with a local thought leader (ideally an influencer who can backlink to your blog post and cross-promote), guest blogs, videos, infographics, “how to,” case studies, or a list of top 10, top 5, etc.
5. Technical tips: There are many resources that provide specific technical best practices. Here are a few items to consider:
- Keywords: Use keywords that align with topics you want to be known for. You can research by typing in the topic you plan to write about and review Google’s “People also ask” results for ideas of words or phrases to include in your blog.
- Title tags: A title tag is the HTML code that displays the name of your blog post in search results and at the top of your web browser. According to Moz (one of the best free online resources for all things search), your title should be unique, reflect the content on your blog and be between 50 and 60 characters in length.
- Backlinks: Backlinks allow you to link to other authoritative sites.
- Image: Include a relevant, visually appealing image that correlates with your blog (make sure you have the rights to use it). Blogs with images typically receive more views.
- Length: There are various studies done that identify the optimal length for a blog. Generally, longer is better, and somewhere between 1,000 and 2,500 words is ideal.
- Bio: Have a link to your headshot, bio and contact information.
- Call to action: Ensure your blog has a contact form.
6. Measure ROI: It may take some time before your blog creates a lead. It’s important to remember that the main goal of your blog is not necessarily to generate immediate sales, but to build awareness, establish your authority and engage. Key metrics to assess include: increase of social shares, blog page visits and time on-site. Eventually, you’ll measure inbound leads. Reviewing your metrics will also help clarify which topics are resonating to inform future content development.
7. Promotion: Finally, it’s time to promote your blog. Make sure it is findable and linkable—then spread the good news! Make your centers of influence aware of your blog and encourage them to share it. Wherever your digital footprint appears, ensure a link to the blog is present (email signature, LinkedIn profile, banner on your website, etc.)
Matthew Bryan is 2nd VP, digital marketing at Guardian Life.