By Julianna House & Lauren Dichter, Spring Interns – Heinz Marketing Inc.

There is a vast difference between simply blogging in your free time and writing a business blog. You don’t need any prior experience to write a blog, but in order to have an effective business blog, it must drive current and prospective customers, create added value, and incorporate useful content.

You don’t need to be a professional writer to have successful B2B blog, but you must be able to write clearly and provide valuable content. Should some bloggers re-read their work, and perhaps make more liberal use of the spell-check? Yes. However, blogging today has created an outlet for breakthrough ideas that may have gone unnoticed, or even worse – unspoken in the past.

The whole purpose of the blogosphere is for the average person to have an outlet for his or her ideas, feelings, musings, or commentary. I believe strongly that there are far more people out there with original ideas worth hearing, than there are good writers.

A well-written blog will lead to noticeable outcomes that drive both awareness and lead generation while building credibility.  We drive awareness through thought-leadership and generating exposure to our internal opinions and ideas.  Similarly, we drive lead generation (hopefully!) through our insights into strategy, growth and ROI tactics, and tricks to tackle business initiatives.

If you haven’t started a blog for yourself or your business yet, do it.

Blogging has become the third most common content marketing activity and is only exponentially growing. It drives a strong customer following and is definitely worth the investment (or lack of investment). Blogs are inexpensive or free and provide vast distribution through multiple media channels that will enhance your business’s overall marketing reach.

Blogs can open the doors to various opportunities for growth and success in a business. They provide an avenue for introduction, keep in touch with prospects, maintain awareness and interest, and ultimately help close deals. Statistics show that businesses with blogs get 55% more website traffic, and 70% more leads. Also, over 57% of businesses have acquired a customer through their blog, and around 71% of businesses say blogging as improved purchase decisions.

So what’s holding you back?

Here are 5 the best B2B practices for starting and maintaining a blog:

  1. Ensure the content you create is valuable for prospective customers

Blogs provide a platform, which allow your company to extend their brand without paying a third party. Your blog should be a collection of articles, opinions, and interviews that provide relevant, helpful, and educational content to engage your target market.

Clearly prove to your prospects that you understand their difficulties and want to offer unique solutions. By offering insight to popular trends and growing technologies, blogs can become an integral space that drives customer trust and interest.

  1. Develop structure and engage readers with call to actions

This brings back the question we are all so curious about: must blogs be well written? In order for a blog to be well written, it must be structured and provide validated information to effectively generate an audience’s attention.

Structure is key. Many viewers will scan blogs for valuable information, so it is important to keep paragraphs short, include lists or bullet points, and highlight key terms in bold or italics. At the end of your writing, it is important to incorporate a CTA to evoke a response from the audience. This is a beneficial part of your structure because it engages the prospects, and offers valuable insights to marketers about your prospect’s interests and intentions to buy.

  1. Provide additional links to products or assets on your website

Integrating other marketing efforts into your blog through inbound links is simple and highly effective in boosting overall traffic. It is a great way to get readers to stay on your site and increase engagement. 82% of marketers who blog regularly see positive RIO from inbound efforts.

B2B marketers can validate their facts and build trust in readers by providing links to creditable sources. Linking to marketing assets like PDFs, books, and webinars are highly effective in leveraging customer involvement, and ultimately generating leads. Providing in-bound links to your blog will increase your B2B search optimization, credibility, and lead generation.

  1. Optimize for SEO

Today, search engine optimization must be aligned with your content marketing strategy to obtain high-ranking results and to be easily found online. There are hundreds of blogs on the web and it is up to you to differentiate yours.

This can be accomplished by selecting trending topics, incorporating ranked keywords, and adding inbound links. Using keywords is highly important and will improve your blog SEO greatly. For best results, incorporate the highest-ranking keyword in your title, headers and body, and the meta description. (If you want more insight into SEO, check out Orbit Media or Moz – the SEO pros!)

SEO brings highly targeted traffic and provides 24/7 promotion to your site, which will lead to higher conversation rates in your B2B marketing development.

  1. Consistently update blog content and schedule posts

By consistently updating your blog and its content, you will keep customers retuning to your website to discover more. The best practices around B2B marketing and sales are dynamic, so it is important to stay current and provide value regularly to encourage readers to regularly visit your page.

It is a best practice post new content weekly – the more posts the better, without diminishing quality. Ultimately the more you spend on content, the more likely it is to pay off and lead to a greater following and influence on your prospects.

Blogging has become a valuable aspect in enhancing online B2B marketing and sales strategies, while growing creditability. They are proven to be beneficial in advancing your website awareness and overall brand reputation.

If you’re worried about starting or maintaining a blog – don’t be.

The blogosphere is a safe place for writers of all backgrounds to express their opinions and ideas, plus the only cost is your time. Prospects are eager to learn how others are dealing with rising problems and the implementation of new technologies, so why not help provide solutions and share your knowledge. The opportunities for B2B organization to advance their marketing strategies through blogging are endless – it’s time to put your business’s voice on display.

Have you thought about starting a blog? Do you see the success that blogging can deliver to enhance your overall B2B marketing strategy?