Somewhere, a business owner is writing a blog post. She writes the headline first, pens a killer introduction, and makes her point with 892 carefully crafted words. Satisfied, she hits “Publish” and waits for fortune to arrive with a roll of $100 bills in one hand and a book deal in the other.
This is the legend of the lone blogger who climbs the mountain of success one post at a time. I’m not going to debunk this story. Crafting amazing content is still critical to building a modern business. But buried in this story is the assumption that a blog is all you need to succeed.
That, my friend, is just not true. Yes, a blog is the start of an effective content strategy. But a blog can’t drive your business by itself. It needs help from a carefully choreographed content marketing campaign.
Here are six tactics that need to be fundamental parts of any such campaign. When they are, your blog will become an engine that powers your business.
1: Content outposts
Your blog is the hub of your online presence, like an aircraft carrier sailing in the midst of cruisers and destroyers. However, you’ll need to extend your presence to social platforms that attract your readers:
Google+ for tech and hobby topics (and here are 64 ways to do so)
Twitter for general interest subjects
Tumblr (yes Tumblr!) for creative niches like photography, art, and graphic design
Pinterest for those topics, as well
LinkedIn for B2B professionals (and they have several new compelling features available)
Facebook for just about everything else
Start with your editorial calendar and look for opportunities to launch a conversation on a topic before publishing a blog post. Next, use your blog post to extend the conversation.
Consider posting particularly insightful comment snippets on each platform to attract more readers.
2: Lead magnets
Lead magnets are gifts (or ethical bribes) offered to readers in exchange for their email addresses. These “leads” are then ready for follow-up marketing via email campaigns. Even if you don’t have a product to offer today, building your email list now will set the foundation for future success. Understand that simply saying “Sign up for updates” doesn’t cut it anymore. People are stingy with their emails, and they want something tangible and valuable before they give access to their inbox.
Effective lead magnets include special reports (7-10 pages), eBooks (30+ pages), email courses, videos, webinar replays, even regular Q&A calls. Think: valuable content that will scale as your list grows.
3: Concierge and content landing pages
Blog posts are workhorses. But the more you post, the harder it is for readers to find and enjoy all of your content. Crafting content landing and “concierge” pages will help. Use content landing pages to create a mini-index of your best posts focusing on a single topic. (Here’s an example I created, focused on content strategy.) By the way, content landing pages are a smart choice to optimize for search and other discovery, since Google tends to find these pages valuable as well.
Concierge pages help new readers get oriented during their first visit. A simple “Welcome, start here” page is a savvy way to build rapport while directing readers to high-conversion and/or high-engagement posts.
4: Confirmation pages
Confirmation pages thank new subscribers, deliver online products, or tell readers how to complete the next step in the process. Most of the time, these are “throwaway” pages that bloggers consider an afterthought. But for your readers, this is the page that begins the process of delivering on the promise of your product.
I encourage you to take another look at these pages and seek opportunities to entice your readers to take another action. For example: On blog update thank you pages, ask the reader to sign up for your free lead magnet or even a low-cost entry product.
On product purchase thank you pages, offer your new customer another complementary product along with a discount. In my experience, these bonus offers do extremely well. In general, don’t allow your readers to finish a subscription or purchase without offering them the opportunity to get more from you.
5: A long-term email auto responder campaign
Most of the visitors to your blog aren’t ready to do anything but read a good post. But there is a segment of visitors who are actively gathering information about your subject. These people aren’t ready to buy something, but they are interested in getting more information. Your goal should be to stay top of mind with this group.
Creating a long-term email campaign that delivers more personalized and comprehensive information keeps your blog — and a potential sale — just a click away.
6: “Meet and greets” with webinars and hangouts
It’s easy to churn out posts and let your words take the place of eyeball-to-eyeball interaction. At first, I loved blogging because it allowed me to be extroverted on my own terms. However, many people need some social contact to decide that they want to do business with you. Fortunately, there are great online tools to let you do just that.
Consider adding a monthly webinar to your content mix
Use blog posts to promote them before and after the webinar
Set up Google Hangouts for smaller Q&A sessions, and later blast it out via Hangouts On-Air for larger audiences.
I love it when a plan comes together
Your blog’s outposts meet readers, leads, and customers on their favorite social networks and attract them to your blog.
Then concierge and content landing pages’ usher readers to the best content, while high-value lead magnets turn readers into subscribers. From there, the conversation shifts to the reader’s inbox, using a long-term email campaign to stay top of mind and make targeted offers.
Optimized confirmation pages will encourage each subscriber or customer to take “one more action,” thus deepening engagement. Along the way, webinars and Google Hangouts continue to deepen rapport with your visitors, allowing you to become their trusted adviser and go-to expert.
This is how a blog, in tandem with other content platforms and tactics, turns into the engine that builds and powers a real business. What other tactics are important for making sure your blog drives business (and not just the other way around)?