This is my 1,000th blog post. For the first few years, I posted sporadically and when I had time. But for the past year, I’ve ramped up both publishing volume (posting something at least every business day) as well as how carefully we choose the topics I cover.
This weekend I reflected a bit on whether it’s all been worth it. Many bloggers struggle with this question, and many marketers (including some of our clients) wonder the same thing. But for me, based on the criteria below, there’s no question it’s not only been worth the time and effort, but also been one of the most important marketing investments I’ve made and continue to make. Here’s why.
This is harder to measure, but I know that the blog has been a great tool to further hone my voice, communication skills, perspective on sales and marketing strategy, and thought leadership for my and our position in our markets and industry. This impact has been seen not only in some of the pipeline-building results outlined further below, but also speaking opportunities, partnerships, network invitations, introductions to new people and more.
My preferred business development strategy is to provide a ton of value up front, treat prospects as if they’re clients from day one, and continue giving away content, strategy and ideas to develop trust, credibility and interest in doing something more with us. The blog has been a primary engine of developing and communicating that value. This is different and separate from thought leadership. I could be a thought leader and still charge you for accessing my content (buy my book, pay to attend a seminar, pay my consulting fee to ask a question). But I highly value having a reputation as someone who will freely share ideas, answer questions, brainstorm a topic, and generally be an open book about what we know.
SEO and Web Traffic
Great content is the lifeblood of good SEO, and our Web traffic continues to grow as our volume and quality of content increases. Some of our content is written specifically with keywords in mind, other posts are written because they felt like a good idea. But I’m continually surprised and amazed at what pieces not only drive immediate spikes in traffic, but generate continued regular traffic perpetually.
We feature a series of lead generation offers on the right-hand side of the blog, and get dozens of leads weekly from folks registering to receive white papers, best practice guides and more. Not all of these leads are qualified prospects, and most just want the content. But that’s part of the pipeline-building and long-term relationship building I prefer to do anyway.
Blog content often becomes fodder for presentations. I’ll string together several related blog posts into a new best practices guide. My last book, Sales for Startups, was written first as a series of blog posts and then edited into a book format. Bigger content development projects are far easier, and get done more often, when I can break them down into individual pieces. And when I can leverage those pieces immediately as blog content to generate several other benefits for the company, I’m being that much more efficient with my time and marketing.
Our blog content gets leveraged in a variety of other communication channels – via Twitter, LinkedIn, our monthly newsletter and more. Because of our regular production of new blog posts, aggregating our monthly newsletter takes less than an hour to execute. And the regular distribution of blog content in formats and channels our customers, prospects, and partners prefer helps us stay top of mind for future sales opportunities. One of our biggest sales last fall came from a newsletter subscriber whom I hadn’t talked to in two years.
This is the most important metric of all, of course, and we’ve definitely closed business from the blog. Without getting into the specific metrics, I can tell you that we have several, direct examples of winning business because of blog content, including prospects finding us out of the blue via a social network or search. And we’re getting smarter about tracking a variety of marketing and content touch points with prospects to establish weighted causality to why someone became a paying customer. Our content, and the blog in particular, is at the center of what’s working to find and close more business.
Would love to hear your stories of blog commitment ROI. If you’re a regular blogger, is it worth it to you? How do you define and measure that value?