How your blogging style should differ from your other content
Blogging. Copy. Content Marketing. They’re all the same, right? Each includes words on a webpage that influence readers into taking an action and they’re all written by an expert copywriter...Wrong. Although closely related, they are not the same thing, and they are not interchangeable. The difference between blogging and other content marketing lies in the function and form of the two activities.
What is a blog?
A blog is your brand’s personal touch point: a frequently updated, informative or educational space on your website that can be more informal in tone and acts as an extension of your brand. It offers flexibility in the topics you cover and lets you push the boundaries of your brand voice, expertise and expression.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing informs your buyer persona of what you sell, who you help and the value you can add like a blog, but can cover a whole range of forms including email marketing, video marketing, social media marketing paid search and social and downloadable lead magnets. It’s original content, created for the brand by your in-house team or an external marketing agency.
Content marketers have to wear a different hat depending on the type of content they’re producing. Each form has a different objective. Although a blog’s main aim is to inform, it can have a playful tone and entertain readers. Whereas, a service or product focused web page must illustrate the benefits of the product/service and convince the reader to take action.
Some businesses don't maximise the effectiveness of their blog because they're treating it as an extension of their sales materials. All blog posts (like this one, how meta!) need to have specific actions attached to them, but they are a chance for you to show your personality and help prospects for free, without necessarily trying to extract anything in return.
The best way to put it is: your blog is an important part of your content marketing strategy. It compliments your other forms of content.
According to HubSpot, 53% of marketers put their blog as their top content marketing priority. This makes sense, since every part of your content marketing strategy informs another: a blog can boost website traffic, enhance your SEO practices and even generate leads, all without being a hard sell. Publishing regular blog posts should be at the core of your inbound marketing strategy.
But, how can you make your blog different from your other content marketing activities? At ESM Inbound, we’ve gathered insights from our content experts to give you some pointers on making your blog unique.
Position yourself as a thought leader and industry expert
At this point, we could wax lyrical about the minute differences between a blog and an article. About the need for Heading 1 titles to help search engines crawl your site better or that long-form blog posts create more lead generation than short-form ones.
But, when you’re crafting your blog’s style, it’s the subject of your blog posts that will make it stand out from your other website copy. If the whole purpose of a product webpage is to sell a product, then your blog has the opportunity to differentiate you from your competitors and establish your areas of expertise.
You want to create informative blog posts that readers will bookmark. You want readers to return to your blog while they’re in the awareness stage of the buyer's journey and use the blog as a gateway to your other, more product and service-related content.
Once people trust that you know what you’re talking about, they’re more likely to take your desired course of action. Your blog is a great place to build trust.
We can’t stress this enough – be genuine when writing blog posts. If you’re not trying to get people to download a resource or book a meeting (a decision-stage activity which should only be pushed once you've built trust and your prospect is in the buying frame of mind), don’t be pushy with the promo.
Promotion-heavy blog posts can annoy your audience. Blog posts should be genuine and authentic to your brand. Your blog content has to make sense to everyone and should be support by detailed research that will cement your trustworthy reputation and inform your audience’s opinions. Use sources that the reader will already have heard of and trust to build authority.
Plus, your blog is your brand’s personal space. Talk about the trends your brand values and argue against the ones it doesn't. Genuinely try to be helpful.
Another difference between your blog and your content writing should be that your blog posts can run longer than a typical web page.
Unlike standard web content, a blog post isn’t incapacitated by Bob Stone’s Gem theory. Bob Stone’s methodology limits webpage copy to: lead with the strongest benefit, backup that benefit statement, summarise and highlight the call to action.
It’s incredibly effective, but your blog has the capacity to break away from this formula. Its purpose is to inform and a longer word count can do the trick. Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm your audience. Striking a balance between long-form and short-form content is key, and it’s best to write to the length your topic deserves. Our general rule is that no blog post should be below 1200 words – arguably, if you haven't got that much to say on a topic, then should you be saying it at all?
Link for more traffic
SEO is constantly changing. There used to be a time when throwing lots of keywords on the page would rank you number one. Well, not anymore.
Hyperlinks aren't always appropriate to use on webpages of your site (why would you want to direct a visitor away from your pricing page, for example?) but they are always appropriate in a blog post. Internal backlinks help create a dialogue between your pages and create a seamless buyer journey. External backlinks help attach your content to a particular subject. (Even better, links to your website from others increase your search authority and Google will love you for it.)
However, web copy needs to be short and precise. This doesn't make it a good-fit format for using links, whereas long-form blogs naturally lend themselves to including plenty of links. Precisely how many links are required can be difficult to determine, but it's perfectly possible to develop a successful linking strategy.
Links not only boost your SEO, they also help you generate content ideas as you can spin blog posts off your pillar page and create a content ecosystem around a certain topic cluster.
Experiment with form
A key difference between blog posts and other content is the freedom to write what you want. In a blog, you can have a bit fun and how you present your subject matter is up to you.
You could write a “how to” post to establish your thought leadership. Or you could publish a quiz or survey to create a bit of interactive content. You could also hold an interview with leading figures in your industry or company. There are plenty of options.
Blog posts are your chance to experiment with your content's form. Your blog is where you can push your brand’s stance on certain topics and create an inviting, informative, safe place for your audience. It's the place – apart from a video call or meeting in person – where you can most convincingly show your company's true self, your values and your culture. So don't waste your blog by firing our salesy or whitepaper-appropriate intellectual content: give your audience what they want.
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