I started this blog over 4 years ago as a way to give our customers a dynamic source of useful information, and also to help connect the dots for them between the business problems they face and the value propositions of our Customer Intelligence solutions.
Along the way, I think I've become a better marketer because the process of blogging forces me to do some important things over and over that reinforce good marketing practices:
Remind myself who my audience is.
Marketing involves multi-step processes working with teams of people. This may seem silly, but it can be easy to get lost in the hustle-bustle of day-to-day work and lose sight of the customer. So if you are frequently writing or editing blog posts, you are repeatedly forcing yourself to remember who your audience is.
To me, what's different about blogging than other forms of marketing is that it's more direct and personal because I approach it like a conversation. And like any good conversation, it's only worthwhile when everyone involved is interested in the topic and they're engaged by listening or adding their own perspective.
Important signs that the blog conversation is good include comments, social shares, pageviews, time-on-page and clicks on embedded links. Thankfully I see plenty of all of those happening on this blog, so thank you for your engagement!
Ask the question "Why should they care."
It's not enough to simply think of who the audience is, but also to ask constantly "why should they care." This is important because writing about topics the audience doesn't care about makes the blog (and the blogger) irrelevant over time. Because blogging is so direct and personal, I constantly edit posts while writing them because what gets published reflects both on my company and on myself. And I think checking the overall "fit" with the topics our audience is interested in is just as important as fixing spelling or grammar issues.
All marketers should ask "why should they care" when planning any initiative because that simple question forces you into the shoes of the customer - and that's the best place for any marketer. In today's hyper-connected, always-on world of social-savvy customers, what marketers have to say only matters if their customers agree that it matters - making it critical to remember why the customer should care.
Think about search terms and their importance.
Without a doubt, internet search has transformed whole industries, largely because it has transformed the buying process for just about everything. Google quite aptly originated the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) concept as a digital-era reinterpretation of Procter & Gamble's First Moment of Truth, which described when a customer first encounters your brand.
The idea behind ZMOT is that customers spend a lot of time searching for content well before they might show up in your sales funnel. In this environment, using terms that customers use to search for content is how to help them find your content because it doesn't have impact if it can't be found.
In that regard, blogging should be thought of as content creation and that blogging increases the chances of your customers having their ZMOT with your brand. If you're doing it right, your blog post is a positive moment of truth. Might nay-sayers be wondering about creating "too much content" or the "wrong content?" It's certainly possible, but let the democratic process of pageviews, social shares and click-throughs confirm or refute what's "too much" or what's the "wrong content."
Consider how my content can be shared via social media.
I have a professional profile in social media and actively share my content because all of my target audience is active on some form of social media. In addition to blogging, I focus most heavily on Twitter, LinkedIn and to a much lesser extent SlideShare, and my SAS social media colleagues help me reach Facebook and other social media. But simply being "out there" on social media is not enough.
It's equally important for me to facilitate social sharing by mindfully crafting content, selecting titles, assigning tags and creating tweets that are easily shared. All of it is important:
People love "top 10" lists and to read about "how to" just about anything, so those always make great asset headers, or blog post titles.
For Twitter, crafting tweets with 1-2 important hash tags helps the tweet be found more easily (as well as the content behind it).
Choose blog post titles by imagining how it would look as a tweet, or even as an email subject line. That approach yields benefits in other forms of marketing, which we just validated with an A/B test in online ads, with the asset title yielding the same click and conversion rates as ad units with the carefully crafted header.
Blogging is inherently a form of digital marketing, so the growth of this blog has driven me to take a "digital first" mindset in all my marketing strategies. To me, even tradeshow sponsorships are content-creation opportunities so the care I put into finding great speakers can live on well after the event is over, and I aim to bring the people at the show back to sas.com over and over again.
Hopefully I've inspired you to try blogging by sharing my own experiences. Still not convinced? Take a look at this post by best-selling author, marketing thought leader and all-around great guy David Meerman Scott, titled "It's still great marketing. Just don't call it a blog." In that post he explains how blogging fits into his own marketing.
In the meantime, please comment here or share this post with others. As always - thank you for following!