Are you looking for the blogging platform best suited for finding your business' audience, and wondering where to start?
I've been down the road of introducing blogging as a business tool many times - with colleagues, clients, prospects, and anybody who can stand sitting next to me when my brain is teeming about inbound methodology. I touch blogging in some way or another every single day - with work we have from our clients wherein we're strategizing, drafting, and editing content on a weekly basis - our own blog, where we're doing the same thing - strategizing, drafting, and editing, also on a weekly basis - and we're devouring articles written by others to learn more about the art of inbound and what our clients' clients care about (or more recently - how to cook a turkey using a dry brine) .
Everybody seems to agree that blogging is important, even in the earlier stages of our conversations when we're assessing marketing challenges and needs. However, most don't really seem to know why, even those who have really done their homework.
But knowing "why" is going to be instrumental in making sure you find the best blogging platform for your business. After all, they come along in a lot of different shapes, sizes, and bundles. so we should get to the bottom of your end-game before tossing any ideas about which platform is the way to go.
In this article, I am going to help you understand some of the more valuable traits that blogging has to offer, from how it fits into your bigger picture marketing strategy, to the platforms that have it all - so you can make the right choice for your company.
As we go through these different traits and tools, try to visualize how your blogging strategy would fit - from a tactical AND strategic point of view. You shouldn't have to give up on ideas you have about blogging once you understand what it's capable of, and you certainly shouldn't get stuck with a program that only takes you halfway there.
Reason #1 for blogging: Traffic
Your blog posts will do a lot for you, but if I'm to put on my Zoltar mind-reading cap, half of you who understand blogging to some degree are going to say it's all about traffic.
And you would be right (to some degree), but HOW does blogging actually get more traffic for your business to begin with? (this is where I usually stump those with this particular answer)
There are a couple of ways - social media being one, and organic search queries being another. BOTH of these require focus in another area of digital marketing in order to make your blogging worthwhile - SEO
MORE LIKE THIS: What Does SEO Stand For? by Orange Pegs Media
So, with SEO, we're tapping into an entirely new discussion about digital marketing, so I will try to keep it succinct (you can get more at the Orange Pegs Media learning center if you'd like).
Every time you publish a new blog post, you are putting out a new page to your website that Google and others will index and crawl when people start looking for answers to the puzzles you solve. The search engines appreciate fresh content, but they also appreciate that your new pages are dedicated to ideas that people are looking for. They know this because the keyword you're using is found in the title and meta-tags, and because your visitors stick around once they get in there.
From an SEO standpoint, blogging is mandatory. This is one of the best ways to rank for keywords - so, for many of your visitors, your blog posts will be their gateway to your business.
But there are other ways to garner traffic to your website, including social media marketing. In this instance blogging is HUGELY important for driving traffic to the website, because in order to really be social, you should be proactively helping people solve their problems with discourse and educational materials. Your blog posts will help people diagnose their challenges and find their answers. There really is no better ammunition for social media than blogging.
Still not convinced? Let me give you an example of a time when all THREE play equally important roles in driving traffic:
Google loves Google+, as you can probably imagine. Because of this, public Google+ posts, as in those that are published by businesses, are coming up in search results. So... if you're following an SEO strategy with your blogging, that means your cognizantly using keywords as subjects. And, if you're publishing your blog posts in social media, particularly, Google+, that means your optimized blog posts will actually show up on a first page result through your optimized social media post (Google+) before you ever rank for that particular keyword on your actual website.
FOR YOUR SOFTWARE: If traffic is important to you, and that's why you're blogging, SEO and social media integration are a MUST. For SEO I suggest the all-in-one platform, because you'll have a much more robust tool-set to use, which will save you a TON of time (and time is money, isn't it?) when building out your strategy, integrating into your blogs, and tracking their impact.
In my opinion, the most popular platform, WordPress, misses the mark BIG time in this respect, and it becomes more and more apparent every time I show somebody how to do it in my favorite all-in-one, Hubspot.
For social media, I also suggest the all-in-one route, because you can link your accounts with your posts, so they publish automatically. You can also create trackable, shortened URLs, that will help you see how your traffic is behaving once it gets here.
Reason #2 for blogging: Leads
Blogging is great for helping people diagnose their problems. As a business, you are able to take it a step further and turn that help you're providing into assets that are actually useful, such as leads.
If leads are important to you, educated leads at that - meaning, they know who you are, and they have expressed a connection between themselves and the problems your business solves - then we have to find a way to convert your readers into leads.
From you, this means putting out helpful, quality content - discussions that people can relate to, not just a bunch of fluff trying to score points on your keywords.
It also means you should have lead conversion paths available to those visiting. For example, if you're writing about the "best blogging platform," and you veer off in the direction of helping people understand which features are important, it's probably a good idea to offer downloadable content that will help them learn more about the subject (by the way, here's an ebook about blogging if you're interested).
There should be an exchange - more valuable content for them & their contact information for you.
Just note that the content itself should be useful and considered valuable by the person downloading it. Otherwise, that lead will dry up pretty quickly.
FOR YOUR SOFTWARE: This means having tools to support your content download strategy. You should be able to build landing pages and gate your offers behind a simple form. These landing pages should ALSO be discoverable through keywords, which means they should be integrated with your SEO strategy.
Using an all-in-one will provide easy access to your CTAs, forms, and landing pages, but will also help you analyze the paths your visitors are taking to becoming paying customers.
Yes, I am a passionate advocate of the all-in-one... My agency used to piece different tools together, but after we chose Hubspot as our go-to for just about everything, the process has become so much simpler and successful.
Being able to pull assets with one login is invaluable. Not only are they more accessible, they also cut down on room for error. In Hubspot you can actually tag all of your assets to certain campaigns, so later, when you're reviewing the impact a campaign is having and looking to make adjustments, you'll know exactly where in the marketing supply chain the breakdown is occurring.
Looking to organize your marketing plan? Try this free template!
Reason #3 for blogging: Thought Leader
Going back to why people blog in the first place (or why they think they should), this is without a doubt, the most common answer I get. People see other bloggers as thought leaders, and they somehow figure that status of that nature can be monetized.
There really is no way to quantify the value of thought leadership, but I don't suggest letting go of that idea, because it actually IS important. We just have to shake it up a bit and stop thinking about it in such 2 dimensional terms.
There are a few ways I measure thought leadership, and it's all tied to engagement. If people are clicking my CTAs or links, then they're engaged. If they're walking in and bouncing, they're not.
FOR YOUR SOFTWARE: I suggest finding something that offers analytics tools part of the package. You should be able to analyze CTA clicks, and attribution reports that tell you whether your posts are responsible for lead conversions, and which ones are performing for you.
Most programs out there have SOME analytics tools available, but its not just about seeing PART of what makes your visitors click, but the WHOLE. This is why, again, I go for the all-in-ones... they tend to have better reporting tools, because you can see the ENTIRE journey, not just where they were on your blog posts.
Reason #4 for blogging: Emails
Your blog posts will live on as long as they are published. You may have articles today that resonate in 20 years from now (if you're going for the evergreen stuff), which means you'll have people finding you 2 decades after publication.
But you're also going to want to push your content by way of email as often as it makes sense to do so.
FOR YOUR SOFTWARE: Make certain that the blogging platform you choose has automated emailing capabilities, so people get monthly, weekly, daily, or instant notifications when a new post is published.
This will help you keep your lead list active, fresh, and engaged to the problems your business solves.
So...? What IS the best blogging platform for my business?
I suppose it wouldn't be fair to lead you down this path and not offer up some ideas for blogging platforms. Remember though - I am an advocate of the all-in-ones, so I'm pretty much going to lean there:
Most of my time is spent in Hubspot, because it really is the easiest to navigate, most integrated with my other digital marketing assets, and they blazed the trail for inbound marketing.
Personally, I can't stand WordPress - for what it's worth.
Learn more with our guide to getting started with Inbound: