How to Start a Blogging Programin Your CompanyThe Ultimate Guide toCorporateBlogging
Introduction....................................................................................................1Corporate Blogging Defined...............................................................................3Business Benefits: Why Blog?...........................................................................5Corporate Blogging is a Completely Level Strategy..............................................7Customize Your Approach.................................................................................9Metrics for Setting Goals and Reviewing Progress............................................ 10Challenges to Success................................................................................... 12Taking Steps to Get Started........................................................................... 13Checklist for the CEO/Executive Team............................................................. 14Checklist for the Blogging Administrator......................................................... 15Quickstart Guide for the Blogging Administrator.............................................. 16Checklist for the Employee Bloggers............................................................... 28Quickstart Guide for the Employee Bloggers.................................................... 29How to Start a Blogging Programin Your CompanyThe Ultimate Guide toCorporateBlogging
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 1INTRODUCTIONI wish there was an eBook like this one four years ago when we started a corporate blog.Who knew that, in just a few short years, corporate blogging would become such an essential marketing tool for generatingnew business.We (you and I) must sell our expertise. We must do so by providing consistently valuable and compelling content to our pros-pects and customers. In doing so, we must leverage the greatest marketing assets we have (our employees). This presents bothchallenges and opportunities.And corporate blogging is one huge opportunity.In my case, in 2007 I left a high-paying job in the publishing industry to start my own marketing consulting practice. At the time,I knew literally nothing about social media, even though blogging had been around for almost 10 years. I had a wife and two smallchildren to support, so the pressure was on. Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of funds for traditional marketing efforts.In April 2007 our company launched a blog. At the same time, we started to figure out how to leverage our LinkedIn and Facebookaccounts. A little after that, we found Twitter, as well as some other handy social media tools you’ll read about in this eBook.For two months, I personally blogged at least three times per week. Nothing happened. In those first 60 days I had exactly 321page views. That’s less than six page views per day. To my knowledge, most of the visitors were family and friends.But I persisted...we all persisted. Our staff consistently posted helpful and compelling stories about the industry. We talkedabout issues that no one else was talking about. We started to comment on other blogs where our customers were hanging out.We shared relevant information via our social networks.The next 60 days we saw more than 2,000 people come to our blog. The 60 days after that? One day more than 1,000 peoplecame to our site. Today we have a number of blogs that consistently attract more than 40,000 customers and prospects per month.And all this started with one blog post.
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 2You may be saying, “Joe, web traffic is great, but how about business?”I can tell you that our single most important tool in our content marketing toolbox has been, and will continue to be, our blog.We have driven more business, started more relationships, and established ourselves as the industry experts because we sharevaluable, compelling, and relevant content on our blog almost every day.But we learned each step the hard way. We wasted a lot of time just figuring out how to use all these new tools. All you have to dois read this eBook and execute a handful of the practices.This eBook will show you that there are many, many people succeeding by leveraging corporate blogging, just like we did.These brands don’t have more resources, skills, or technology than anyone else.All they did was take the expertise within their organizations and actively share that in multiple ways online. They gave awaysuch valuable information that the people who came to engage in this material wanted to learn more, and ultimately do busi-ness with them. They have a point of view. They realized that blogging and social media are important parts of the marketingmix and don’t just sit outside in a vacuum. They started to think and act like publishers.Fifteen years ago, this kind of marketing wouldn’t be possible. Today, we are all publishers whether we like it or not. There areno barriers to entry. Anyone anywhere can succeed with the right message, consistency, and integration. It’s up to you whetheryou want to take up the sword and be the leader you already are.Now get busy blogging!Joe PulizziFounder, Junta42 | Content Marketing InstituteCo-author, Get Content Get Customers
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 3CORPORATE BLOGGING DEFINEDA corporate blog provides a forum for your company’s leaders and employees to discuss topicsof interest with your target prospects, customers, and industry influencers. A corporate blogsite consists of many individual posts, each written by different bloggers within your company.Organizing your site this way creates many more opportunities for your company to be foundonline and generate new business. Consistency is key, so new blog posts must appear on aregular basis (daily is ideal).AN INSIGHTFUL RESOURCE. Successful blogs provide solutionsto your target prospects’ and customers’ issues. The purpose is notto simply push product or company content, but to provide valuableinsight and resources to help your target audience solve their problems.In addition to being useful, the content must contain specific keywordsthat targets would likely enter into search engines so that your companycan be found though this inbound marketing channel.MATERIAL FOR REPURPOSED CONTENT. Blog posts thatcontain thought-provoking ideas and insight can be very useful foryour company’s marketing department. Any marketer will tell you thatcreating new valuable content can be time-consuming and expensive.Individuals’ blog content should lend itself to being repurposed in manydifferent forms (white papers, for example) over time.SEARCH ENGINE SUCCESS. Corporate blogs contribute greatlyto your organic search engine optimization (SEO) and social mediastrategies, as both efforts require good, relevant, and regular content.The more ideas, insight, and material that your bloggers create, thebetter chance you have of attracting new visitors to your site fromexternal resources.ROLES FOR THE PRACTICEThere are three primary roles in a corporateblogging practice:The CEO and executive team, who set thepriority and goals for the effort, allocate theproper resources, and communicate the impor-tance of the effort to the people involvedThe blogging administrator, who developsthe plan, ensures that the CEO and execu-tive team approve and support the effort, andworks with the technology team and bloggersto execute the plan and meet the goalsThe employee bloggers, who help execute theplan, blog regularly, and also market theirblogs to their individual social networks
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 4A Quick Example: Balihoo, Inc.“It was easier to get our employees engaged once we had set goals…and now that we have a clear intention to convert leads,our posts contain more calls-to-action,” says Shane Vaughan, Balihoo’s Vice President of Marketing.The blogging administrator measures and reports on the blog’s success each month so all employees know how their efforts arepaying off. A monthly meeting is held where recognition awards such as gift certificates are given out for “most blog posts,”“most page views,” etc.Visitors who come to the Balihoo website from theblog are now converting at a rate six times greaterthan that of the average conversion rate from othersources.“This tells me that our blog is drivingvaluable, relevant customers to oursite who are looking for the solutionswe offer.”Shane VaughanVice President of Marketing,Balihoo, Inc.PROBLEM: Balihoo, Inc. began its corporateblog in May 2007. The original goal was topresent the company’s executives as thoughtleaders, but because that goal was ambigu-ous, the blog lacked focus. Additionally, onlythree or four people were blogging, thereforecontent was published infrequently.SOLUTION: Balihoo relaunched its corporateblog in 2010. A staff member was appointedto manage the corporate blogging program,and the primary goal from that point on wasto generate and convert leads.RESULTS: Six months after rebuilding thecorporate blogging program, Balihoo had 20to 25 employees blogging on a regular basis— about half the company’s workforce.
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 5BUSINESS BENEFITS: WHY BLOG?Corporate blogging offers significant benefits to your customer development efforts:»» Increase the number of visitors to your site who will be interested in your ideas and who may ultimately becomeinterested in your products and services. According to Chris Baggott, CEO of Compendium Blogware, generally80 percent of blog traffic comes from first-time visitors via search engines. A properly optimized blog that useskeywords strategically will bring more visitors to your site each day and raise the search engine page rankings of yourbusiness’s content links. In addition, corporate blog posts give you material for your social media strategy, as you canpost short summaries to your targeted social media sites (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and incorporate theideas in more specialized discussion forums and community sites.»» Better communicate your story to the world. Blogging gives a voice to all your employees and enables them to sharetheir expertise — and their personalities — with your target audience. Blogs reflect your company culture and helpprospects connect with your company’s personality/style.»» Improve your brand equity with timely, relevant, and useful content. Your visitors are looking for content that address-es their informational needs. Your blog is the perfect place to provide the content — and the better you address theirneeds, the more they will understand and appreciate your team and your company. This is a great way to build yourbrand equity: the understanding of who you are through the eyes of your target audience.»» Generate more qualified leads, sales opportunities, and sales. A corporate blog expands your reach to explain to abroader audience who you are, what you do, and the value proposition you offer. A properly executed blog will raisethe number of qualified leads you receive and ultimately increase your sales.
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 6»» Improve your sales productivity. A blog gives you the opportunity to communicate the same message toyour target persona(s), versus having to have the same conversations with each prospect individually.This enables you to:move prospects through the sales cycle fasterwith less time spent by sales peopleincrease the conversion rate of leads into sales»» Measure how well you are communicating your value propositionand continuously improve your messages over time. Analyticaltools enable you to track the progress of your program, and thedata that you gather will help you determine where to focus yourefforts moving forward.»» Make your employees more customer-oriented. When it comesto actively engaging with the customer’s perspective, very fewpractices are better than writing quality content. A corporateblog site is a non-sales oriented environment for your employ-ees to connect with the company’s target audience(s). Allowingyour readers to leave comments on posts is a great opportunityfor bloggers to engage in thought-provoking conversations withinterested parties.»» Give the marketing team material to use for other purposes.High quality blog posts generate interesting concepts and con-tent outlines that the marketing team can repurpose into morerobust content (such as white papers) for your target prospects,customers, and industry influencers.
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 7CORPORATE BLOGGING IS ACOMPANY-WIDE STRATEGYProperly executed corporate blogging adds measurable value, but as with any practice, it takes time and resources to get yourprogram up and running. Additionally, it will take time for the content to become popular with search engines and target readers.For a blogging program to be successful, the CEO and executive team must buy in to the value of the program, communicateits importance to employees, determine short- and long-term goals, and dedicate the proper resources to the effort. In addition,participating employees should be given a goal pertaining to a regular blogging rhythm and must dedicate a set amount of timeeach week to create marketable content.Your corporate blogging strategy and practiceat the executive level includes:»» Setting the right long-term goals and shorter-term goals/milestones»» Assigning senior sponsorship»» Appointing a person (a blogging administrator) to be responsible for the effort»» Approving an approach and plan that correlates with your company’s goals»» Properly resourcing the effort»» Constantly communicating the importance of the effort to everyone involved»» Reviewing results and making adjustments over time
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 801.02.03.04.05.Corporate blogging as a company spreads both the opportunity to contribute and the effortof maintaining a blog to every employee. More specifically, it’s important to encourage thecontent creators who work in all areas of your company for a few key reasons:Creating content that attracts people to you nurtures thought leadership throughout the organization.It helps your employees understand that they are ambassadors of your brand, and it vests them in your busi-ness in a more fundamental way. Plus, it increases social sharing exponentially when your employees sharetheir content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube.It creates a much more diverse and interesting blog for your readers, because the blog reflects the pointsof view of many, not just the perspective of one or two.It’s much easier to maintain a robust, active blog when you have many contributors responsible for writingcompelling content, day in and day out. Have you ever written a regular column or blog? It’s a lot harderthan it seems, and after you have a few hundred posts or columns under your belt, it’s easy to burnout or struggle for something new to say.So much of the knowledge and thought leadership that will make your blog a must-read isn’t distilled intoa single person in, say, the marketing department. Rather, it’s contained in the views of subject matterexperts who works throughout your organization. Some of those people might be in marketing, but theymight also be in the corner office, or product development, or they might be right on thefront lines in customer service or sales. It’s important to tap that expertise throughoutthe organization, because that’s what’s really going to put meat on your blog’s bones.Ann HandleyChief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 9CUSTOMIZE YOUR APPROACHA corporate blogging program should be well constructed, but as with all practices, there aremany approaches that can lead to a successful effort. Below, we outline two broad examplesto help you determine the best approach for your business:APPROACH 1.TEST IMPLEMENTATIONSelect a small number of committed people, perhaps oneemployee from each department or team, to be trained andstart blogging on a regular basis. After your program hasbeen executed for a given period of time, review your resultsvs. goals. What efforts can be made to increase participa-tion? What approaches can be taken to improve quality/rel-evance of posts? How can the company better promote poststo external networks?This approach is best used if the senior team is not readyto commit to a full-scale implementation. The downsideof the “test implementation” is that it will take longer tomaximize the impact of the effort. This approach also willtake an ongoing commitment of time and resources from theblogging administrator, as he or she will be responsible forrepeating the training and engagement steps necessary toonboard new bloggers.APPROACH 2.FULL-SCALE IMPLEMENTATIONDetermine who in the organization should be bloggingand execute a plan that gets everybody blogging from thestart. This approach will inherently be iterative in nature,with ongoing adjustments based on results. The benefit ofexecuting a full-scale implementation is that your blog willbe likely to climb search engine rankings faster, and yourreaders will likely be more engaged, as there will a greatervariety and amount of content available. The downside ofthis implementation style is that it will take more time andcommitment up-front from the CEO and executive team toensure that the implementation is successful.The approach that you and your executive team determine is best for your company needs to fit the priority level that the initia-tive has within your organization’s overarching goals. The key is to create a plan that you can implement relatively quickly sothat you can start measuring the progress against your goals soon thereafter.
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 10METRICS FOR SETTING GOALSAND REVIEWING PROGRESSMetrics are essential for accurately setting goals and tracking the performance of yourblogging program. By analyzing the blog’s performance against your metrics, the bloggingadministrator will gain valuable insight as to how the blogging initiative can be improved.The metrics for blogging fall under four broad categories:Measures the inputs to your blogging efforts, such as the number of bloggers who are meeting theblogging goal, the number of blog postings created each period, and the number of target keywordsused in each blogMeasures the amount of attention your blogs are getting and where the traffic is coming from,such as the number of weekly visitors, the number of visitors who have subscribed to RSS feeds, andthe number of visitors from your key traffic sources and other marketing channels (e.g., search engines,social network sites, referral sites, e-mail newsletter)Helps to demonstrate the level of engagement your audience has with your blogs, such as the aver-age number of page views per visitor, the time spent reading blogs, and the number of comments youreceive (good or bad)Helps to demonstrate the level of conversion you are getting with your blogs, such as the number of visi-tors who click through to other sections of your website, the number of visitors who opt-in to receive youre-mail newsletter, the number of visitors who ultimately become sales leads, opportunities, and sales, andthe amount of feedback you get from your target audience as they go through your sales processBLOGGINGACTIVITYAUDIENCETRAFFICAUDIENCEENGAGEMENTAUDIENCECONVERSION
The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Blogging | 11Another way to gauge success involves looking at how you’re faring in terms of yourindustry influence/success. Are your targets looking to you for your expertise? Haveyou been offered opportunities to syndicate your blog, speaking engagements, etc.?When a blogging effort is first established, performance should be measured more by the bloggers’ inputmetrics pertaining to quality and frequency. Over time, the audience traffic metrics will start increas-ing, and this will become more valuable for determining success and making adjustments. As timegoes on you should have enough audience conversion activity (qualified leads for your salesteam) to start using these metrics to monitor the performance of your program and makeadjustments to your approach.Just to be clear, we are not suggesting what your goals or measures should be; it is up to youto determine the key focus of your corporate blogging effort and how to use the measures toboth monitor progress and identify opportunities for improvement. For example, a bloggingeffort with little engagement and great conversion metrics might be considered a success ifyour goal is to build short-term sales leads. On the other hand, an effort with great audienceengagement and few conversions might be considered a success if your goal is to build anengaged community of your target audience that you believe will have longer-term businessbenefits.