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Business Blogging Secrets Revealed

business bloggingIn recent years, some pundits have suggested that the blog is dead. But blogging has not died — it has simply evolved from a consumer activity into a sophisticated marketing tactic.

The best marketers have figured out that if you’re going to have long-term success in this content marketing evolution, investment in owned digital properties is mandatory.

blog-post-early-CTA

71% of marketers are increasing their spend on content marketing this year.  More specifically, 80% of marketers use blogging as a part of their content marketing mix, as reported by CMI and MarketingProfs in a recent benchmark study.

To understand how these marketers are developing and sustaining successful blogs, we conducted a study of 425+ marketers called Business Blogging Secrets Revealed.

Here’s What We Found

To identify best practices, we separated one group of respondents — those who run blogs with 10,000 or more page views a month — and deemed them the “10K Business Blogging Club.” This group not only has high traffic, but they also get high referral rates from their blog to their corporate web site, and they see higher impact of their blog activities on key marketing metrics including quantity and quality of sales opportunities.

We took a close look at how this club approaches the four stages of Curata’s content supply chain: strategy, production, publishing/promotion and analytics. The key differentiators of the 10K Club for each stage are as follows:

content marketing supply chain

The Study

Here are a few statistics about the marketers surveyed and interviewed as part of this research:

  • N = 428 marketers
  • Titles: CMOs and VPs of Marketing; content marketing directors, managers and specialists; marketing consultants and agencies; and business owners.
  • B2B vs. B2C:  57% B2B; 15% B2C; 22% both.
  • Verticals:  26% technology businesses, 18% marketing agencies, 15% professional services and 5-10% each of education, financial services, healthcare and others.
  • Company size by revenue:  61% <$10M; 19% $10M to >$100M; 10% $100M to <$1B; 10% $1B+.

10K Business Blogging Club

bloger

Who are the members of the 10K Club? Our survey results found that of the 10K Business Blog Club Members:

  • 70% have had a blog for 2+ years
  • 44% have more than one blog
  • 2/3 of are “small companies” (less than $100M in revenue)

Perhaps the most interesting statistic we found is that although 44% of 10K Club members have blogged for 5+ years, 56% of all bloggers who have blogged for 5+ years did not make it into this club. This suggests that an established online presence does not automatically lead to success. Instead, we must look deeper into the specific tactics of the 10K Club, starting with strategy.

Strategy

strategy

Invest in Your Owned Media
When looking at overall content marketing strategy, the best bloggers understand that their blog is just one piece of the owned media puzzle. The members of the 10K Club are focusing on building up their website, microsites and social communities as well.

10K Club members plan to invest in what’s already working for them . . . their blog(s): 56% of these bloggers have plans to hire additional resources dedicated to their blog(s) in the next 6-12 months. See the chart below to find out how this compares to the rest of the bloggers surveyed.

outsource content

Establish a Center of Excellence
In addition to hiring resources for blogging, these marketers understand the importance of a governance team or center of excellence (CoE) within their organization.

80% of the 10K Club members have some type of CoE team that is responsible for overall content strategy and oversee areas such as:

  • Engagement guidelines
  • Blogging code of conduct
  • Training
  • Software applications
  • Editorial staff
  • Design staff
  • Writing staff
  • Best practices
  • Framework
  • Content ideas

Think of this team like the common thread that runs through all content marketing activities. Without this centralized group, content (blog or otherwise) can come off as disjointed and inconsistent.

Production

production

Frequency & Length Matter
Although content quality is more important than quantity, publishing blog posts on a consistent basis is still essential.

90.5% of the 10K Club publish blog posts weekly or more often.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.05.27 AM

However, publishing a lot of short posts just to increase frequency will not lead to success. The length of blog posts is also important. 10K Club members said that more than 50% of their posts have 500+ words. 

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.19.30 AM

Don’t Be Afraid to Look Outside of Your Organization
To create this much content, smart marketers use multiple resources such as internal staff, agencies, writing services and freelancers. We found that 10K Club bloggers are outsourcing more content to external staff than other bloggers. As presented in the following chart, 10K Club members outsource 23.6% of blog posts to external staff, whereas other respondents only outsource 11.8%.

blog creation sources

In order to publish high-quality posts on a consistent basis, marketers should be willing to hire outside of their organization. Here are some resources for finding content marketing writers:

Publishing

promotion

The majority of bloggers we surveyed use the same tool for publishing content (a resounding 66% of respondents use WordPress over tools like Drupal or HubSpot.) What sets apart the 10K Club bloggers is their ability to promote content in new and innovative ways.

All bloggers depend upon many teams and channels to promote their content:

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.29.57 AM

But, the 10K Club stands out from the rest of the blogging pack in several ways. These bloggers:

  • Align with their social media team. 10K bloggers understand the importance of promoting content across many social media platforms; and they collaborate and align with social media experts to accomplish this goal.
  • Involve blog writers in the promotion process. The best bloggers understand that their work is not done once they hit “Publish”. Instead, they are actively involved in the promotion process from writing copy for landing pages to brainstorming social media posts.
  • Leverage the power of paid media. 10K Club bloggers experiment by tapping into paid promotion tools such as Outbrain, Taboola or even paid ads within Twitter or Facebook. Take a look at the ultimate list of content marketing tools for a comparison of various promotion tools.
  • Send newsletters and send them often. Of the 10K Club members, 39% use newsletter promotion at least weekly. This is a great way to promote content and provide your audience high quality and relevant information.

Analytics

measuring-cup

10K Club members are highly methodical and “cutting edge” users of technology to measure the impact of their blog. The recently published Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics & Metrics provides a helpful framework:

Metrics-Modelv1

By looking at the first column (Site/Blog), you can see there are a number of different metrics to use on a blog, ranging from page views to leads touched. When we asked respondents how they measure blog posts, we found the following:

blog metrics

The greatest difference between the 10K Club and the rest of the pack is the sophistication of measurement. The 10K Club members push beyond “soft metrics” like page views and social shares and spend more time measuring and fostering long-term relationships. More specifically, they measure engagement (e.g., subscription rates) and the effect on marketing and sales’ pipeline.

See our aforementioned guide for guidance and tips on measuring each of these metrics.

Become a Part of the 10K Club

Now that you’ve learned the secrets of best-in-class bloggers, you can start to implement these best practices in your own business blog(s) or use this data to gain further support for activities you may already have in progress.

To access the full results of this survey, download the eBook Business Blogging Secrets Revealed.

blogging survey

Michael Gerard

Michael was CMO of Curata, responsible for Curata’s marketing strategy and all related activities. He has over 25 years of marketing and sales experience, having successfully launched and sustained three start-up ventures as well as having driven innovative customer creation strategies for large technology organizations such as IDC, Kenan Systems, Prospero (mZinga) and Millipore. Michael received his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as a BS in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and an MS in Engineering from Northeastern University.

  • Great analysis, Michael.

    The seriousness with which members of the 10K Club take governance and measurement shows an evolution in businesses’ maturity and understanding of what it takes to make content marketing earn its keep.

    Is there a correlation between business size and membership in the 10K club? How many of the “61% <$10M," for example, are in the club? I'd love to see the answer to the ages-old question of, "Does size matter?"

    Again, excellent job and insights.

    • Michael Gerard

      Thanks Jim. Great question. When first analyzing the data, I suspected that many of the 10K Club memberes were large companies. (i.e., $500+M in revenue) However, it turns out that 2/3rds of the 10K Club are <$100M in revenue. As much budget as large companies may have, they have yet to invest a significant amount of cash into their blog(s). In addition, larger companies are stifled by the silos across their marketing teams. (e.g., blog posts are created in one team, while another team focuses on promotion, often in a disjointed manner)

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    Great Analysis ! Keep sharing

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