Did you know that 55% of marketers say blogging is their number one priority in inbound marketing?
Also, did you know that these marketers are 13 times more likely to get a positive ROI than marketers who don’t invest in blogging?
Over the past decade, companies have grown revenue, increased brand awareness, and increased conversions through valuable written content published for their target audience and customers. The key here is that your blog content is valuable – it’s not enough to just have a blog; There has to be a purpose or reason for its existence.
So how can you create and maintain a successful blog that delivers valuable, high quality content to your target audience – while building your company’s reputation as a thought leader and industry expert?
The answer is with a Blog marketing strategy.
Before we review the steps to your blog marketing strategy, let’s take a look at how to start a successful blog. We’ll also include examples of successful blog pages to illustrate some of these steps.
How to start a blog
- Choose your blog topic and purpose.
- Register and host your blog.
- Design your blog.
- Decide who should write and manage your blog.
- Determine how often you share blog posts.
- Write compelling and valuable content.
- Include CTAs.
- Start your blog.
- Track and analyze your blog’s success.
1. Choose your blog topic and your purpose.
The first part of developing your blogging strategy is to clearly define the subject and purpose of your blog.
Your blog topic should be broad enough that you can write hundreds of articles about it, but also specific enough to relate to your business niche and areas of expertise.
When thinking about the purpose of your blog, ask yourself, “Why is this blog here?”
You should be able to answer this question in a simple, defining statement. (Document the purpose of your blog so you can refer to it as you grow and your business continues to develop.)
If you need help defining the purpose of your blog, take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the bigger purpose your company is trying to serve?
- What story supports this purpose?
- Who shares your passion for this purpose?
- Is your team focused on the importance of this purpose?
HubSpot has four blog properties: Marketing, Sales, Service, and Website. Each blog focuses on the respective industry and links the content to the corresponding HubSpot product.
2. Register and host your blog
This step is twofold. First, let’s talk about your blog’s URL structure.
A domain name, also known as a root domain, is the text in a URL that identifies your website – and therefore your business – to a web browser. For example, HubSpot’s domain name is hubspot.com.
Subdomains are part of your root domain – they appear in front of the domain in your URL as follows: blog.hubspot.com. “Blog” is the subdomain. Subdomains are useful for organizing a lot of content, including multiple content types. If you have a large blog operation, this structure can help you over time. However, in the short term, less authority is transferred from your root domain.
Subdirectories are divisions of your domain that live on your website but represent specific pages on your website. For example, a subdirectory that directs visitors to a specific blog post on a website looks like this: hubspot.com/blog/article-name. Often times, subdirectories transfer more authority from their root domain and subdomain. However, they can make it difficult to scale your content strategy over time as you need more subdirectories to properly organize your content and protect your user experience (UX).
Subdirectories can also represent certain types of content within a subdomain. For example, blog.hubspot.com/marketing/article-name directs visitors to a marketing article on blog.hubspot.com.
The option you choose for your blog can have an impact on your organic ranking. That is why it is important to choose wisely.
Next, you need to choose a host for your company’s blog. The easiest way to host your blog is through the same software that your website is running on.
For example, HubSpot users can use HubSpot CMS and access their website creation and management tools in addition to their blogging tools – all from one central location.
Another common method of hosting your company’s blog is WordPress. Compare HubSpot and WordPress here. Other popular options are Wix, Bluehost, and Squarespace.
3. Design your blog.
Design your blog in a way that entices your readers to read (and hopefully share) your content regularly.
Your blog should be inviting and branded. It should be well organized, clean, and easy to navigate. Within seconds of visiting your blog, readers should know that your company published it.
To do this, choose a topic that is consistent across your blog properties and articles. Depending on the host you choose for your blog, you are likely to have several theme options available, both free and paid.
For example, HubSpot offers a marketplace with free and paid blog template options. Templates make it easy to customize and edit your blog template to suit your business.
The Help Scout blog is a great example of beautiful blog design. Its minimalist design limits the use of copies and accounts for the negative area by promoting the latest posts with beautiful feature images. The blog is geared towards the Help Scout brand and promotes readability and easy navigation.
4. Decide who should write and manage your blog.
Now is the time to think about who writes, runs, and manages your blog. Ask yourself (or your team) who is responsible for each role in your blog strategy?
When it comes to your blog, there are many moving parts. Unless you own every component, it is difficult to take advantage of a successful blogging operation.
We have compiled a list of examples of the roles you need to effectively implement a blogging strategy.
Depending on your resources and the size of your marketing team, one person may be responsible for multiple roles.
5. Determine how often you share blog posts.
How many blog posts can you write and publish? How often do you plan to produce blog content for your audience?
Consistency is key to keeping your audience engaged and interested. This also helps you maintain your status as an active thought leader and expert in your industry. Use a content calendar to consistently manage and schedule your blog posts.
Plan and optimize your marketing content with these free calendar templates.
The beauty of creating this type of blogging rhythm and sharing that information through an editorial calendar is that your blogger team develops a sense of accountability. It ensures that all writers and contributors have optimized for keywords, added CTAs, and edited their pieces by a specific time and date. That way, you’ll get a consistent stream of content that your readers can sync with.
If you are a HubSpot CRM user, you already benefit from an editorial calendar that is integrated directly into the COS.
6. Write compelling and valuable content.
It is important to reiterate how important it is that your blog content is both compelling and valuable to your readers. This plays a huge role in how you are seen by your target audience, customers, competitors, and other industry leaders. That way, you’ll keep readers engaged and loyal to your blog – and hopefully convert to customers too.
Remember, attracting new subscribers takes more time and energy than caring for current readers. Also, your current readers have the potential to become your branding advocates faster than new subscribers. So focus on consistently producing content that will captivate your audience while delivering useful and valuable information to keep them long-term.
Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line, is a fascinating publication. It is not a generic branded blog discussing Patagonia products or customers. It tells compelling stories written by some of the best authors on the internet – and yet resonates with Patagonia’s audiences and those who share its core values. I personally spent hours reading the articles on The Cleanest Line and it made me popular with Patagonia.
7. Add CTAs.
Some of the reasons you are developing your business blog are to drive organic traffic to your website, improve conversions, and increase sales?
This is great news – but to achieve these goals, you need to include relevant call-to-action (CTAs) in your blog posts.
CTAs can be paid or free for your viewers. Either way, effective CTAs provide readers with value that they simply cannot miss.
A CTA can provide your audience with in-depth content and information on a specific topic. Or it may contain a discount code or a special offer for your product or service. A CTA can also provide additional training on the topic of your blog article.
Check out this blog post if you’re looking for examples of clickable CTAs to include in your content.
IIf you’re a HubSpot user, the CRM provides a CTA creation tool that you can use to develop relevant – and even personalized – offers to drive traffic to your landing pages and convert more leads.
For example, the Omniscient Digital blog naturally weaves CTAs into its posts so that the linked elements are part of the larger story or take away. The goal of CTAs should be to encourage readers to take action without straying too far from the purpose of the post.
8. Start your blog.
Now is the time to start your blog!
This is the exciting part – you can finally share the content that you worked so hard to develop. Place your blog content on the appropriate landing page on your website and send their blog articles to your recipient email list. Share it on social media and send it to members of your network at will.
9. Track and analyze the success of your blog.
Remember to track and analyze your blog’s success over time. To do this, decide which metrics are most important to you and your company. Once you understand how a particular metric contributes to a positive outcome, you can make your blogging strategy more targeted. Examples of blogging metrics you might be tracking include:
- Number of readers and subscribers
- Number of page views per post
- Number of conversions
- Number of backlinks
- Number of recommendations
- Total traffic
As you apply these metrics to the goals you want to set, consider the following questions to provide specific goals that make sense for your business.
- Does this goal help you achieve your purpose, or is there something more relevant that we can strive for?
- Is this goal in line with initiatives in other parts of our business?
- What metrics track progress towards this goal? Are these metrics complementary or not intuitive?
Once you have decided which metrics to use, first set goals for a 60 days. This gives you plenty of time to see if your strategy is working and then you can adjust your goals based on the results you see.
Next, let’s dive into your blog strategy.
Blog marketing strategy
Your blog is an important part of your business marketing strategy and hopefully will market your products and services. To do this, however, you need to market the blog yourself.
A blog marketing strategy is how you share and promote the content of your blog. Unfortunately, “Build it and They Come Come” doesn’t apply as well to blogging as it does in Field of Dreams.
In order for your blog to do its intended job – drive traffic, convert visitors, drive sales, and / or promote your brand as a thought leader or expert – it needs to have a marketing strategy of its own. How will people find your blog? What kind of content will she get read? How can you use your other advertising channels to improve your blog content?
Follow these blogging best practices to promote and market your blog content to your target audience.
Always keep an eye on your buyer personalities.
As you write, manage, and plan your blog – or really anything related to your blog – think about your buyer personalities.
Ask yourself, “Who are our ideal customers?” and “Why do you need our product or service?” Once you can answer these questions in detail, you will nail your buyer personality (s) in place.
Use this free template to create your company’s buyer personalities.
After creating your Buyer Personalities, document a detailed description of who that person is so that you can refer to your business and blog growing. You should be able to reference this description every time you write a new blog post.
In this way, you can create content that is specifically tailored to the wishes, needs, challenges and / or weak points of your target customers. That way, you can also make your blog a powerful lead conversion tool for your business (i.e., your blog shows your readers and audience why they need your product or service).
To get a deeper understanding of the actions your buyer personalities are likely to take, study your audience behavior so that you can customize and adapt your blog content to convert it in some way. To do this type of customer research, you can use:
Keep an eye on your competition.
When talking about your competitors’ blogs, it’s important to keep an eye on these other thought leaders in your industry. Your competitors provide insight into what is working (or not working) for your target audience in terms of blog content.
It also teaches you a little bit about what to experiment with and what to do to stand out and provide your readers with valuable content that they can’t get anywhere else – something unique to your business, and only for your business.
Make a list of 5 to 10 of your closest competitors with blogs that you can content review. Make conclusions about the type of content they are sharing, the unique techniques they have implemented on their blog, and how they are performing in terms of ranking for the keywords you are trying to rank for.
Then look for loopholes in their content so you can take advantage of them. Use tools like QuickSprout, Moz’s Open Site Explorer, and SEMRush Competitor Research to do this.
Do SEO and keyword research.
When one of your customers searches for a phrase on Google (or a search engine), you want them to find your blog (or website), not a competitor’s. To do this, take some time to figure out what keywords and phrases your target audience is putting on search engines so that you can include them in your blog posts where they naturally fit.
In other words, you can vastly improve your chances of ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) by doing appropriate search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword research before writing your blog post and then incorporating those results into your content.
First, create a list of 5 to 10 keyword groups that you want to rank and the associated long-tail keywords in the SERP.
Notice, Google’s algorithms are constantly changing to become more intuitive. That means that old tactics like keyword stuffing will hurt your ranking in the SERP. Instead, it is better to write a copy that draws in the viewers first, and then the search engines.
Note: HubSpot customers have access to an integrated keyword and SEO tool to aid this.
Focus on SEO and keyword research of your blog with the HubSpot CRM Content Strategy Tool.
Decide where you want to distribute your blog content.
Strategically determine where you will distribute your blog content. You have already chosen a host for your blog, which means your content is likely already easy to share on your website without any problems.
For example, if you use the HubSpot CRM and blogging software to host and manage your website and blog, you can easily add your articles to the appropriate landing page on your website.
Other ways and platforms through which you can distribute your content are social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn, and online publishing platforms such as Medium. You can also work with industry leaders, experts, and influencers to share your content on their websites and social profiles.
Promote your blog content.
It’s likely safe to assume that you want your blog content to be as discoverable as possible. In terms of your blogging strategy, this refers to your ability to get your content out there for members of your target audience to find, read, and (hopefully) share.
There are many in-depth tactics that you can use to promote your blog. We covered a few options above, but another common form of effective blog advertising involves an influencer marketing strategy.
Start promoting your content using a free influencer marketing guide.
First, identify the key influencers in your niche or industry that you want to contact and work with. These should be people who perceive your current customers and audiences as credible, trustworthy … and yes, influential.
Once you start making and managing your influencer connections, keep in regular contact with those promoting your blog content. Make sure you know what they are doing to endorse, share, and promote your blog content and that their tactics are up to your company’s standards. You want to make sure that they accurately represent your brand. After all, you are likely paying them to promote your content to their viewers.
You can further strengthen your relationship with your influencers by interacting with their content regularly to show your support. For example, if you work with an influencer who also has a blog, go to their blog and read, comment on, and share (even if the content they post is not necessarily business related).
How to Maintain a Blog
Creating and marketing your blog is only half the battle. As mentioned above, consistency is key to a successful blog – which means that maintenance is most of the hard work.
Blogging content can be time consuming, especially if you want to gain authority in your niche with researched, thoughtful, and planned posts.
This is why updating, reusing, and republishing your existing blog content is so valuable – it saves you time and energy, but is also an efficient way to get the results you want.
What do I mean by that? Well, ranking in the SERP with a new net post takes significantly longer (I’m talking about months) than an updated post. That said, you’re more likely to see positive effects from reusing existing posts rather than just creating new content.
Review your existing blog posts to see what you can use and update for other purposes. Out of date content to remove and / or replace may include statistics, examples, infographics, offers, product or service details, research, and irrelevant ideas. You can also add keywords that you’ve found missing from your research.
(Check out this post if you’re looking for more ideas on how to effectively reuse your blog content.)
By updating content, you can also revitalize the brand new content that you have worked so hard on. By updating, you can maintain the quality and relevance of your blog without having to create blog posts from scratch.
Grow Better With An Effective Blogging Strategy
Growing an influential blog in your niche is a surefire way to promote your prospects. By regularly creating content that solves your readers’ challenges and satisfies their greatest curiosity, you begin to build a vault of trust and advocacy. This will inevitably add to the overall success of your company. Start with your goal – the big why – and slowly unpack the individual levers that will add to your blog marketing performance through the steps and strategies outlined above.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated for completeness.
Originally published January 12, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated January 12, 2021