Last week, I had a pleasant exploratory chat with a potential blog service partner and they get the point of corporate or B2B blogging – and it’s not the same as B2C or personal blogging. In the corporate world, using a blog to build community is only one benefit – and in my mind, it’s valuable but not the most important reason to blog.
Let’s talk today about the real value of B2B blogging and the reason behind that value. From there, we’ll segue into a realistic overview of the time requirements needed to build a successful blog.
The discussion will help you put your own company’s situation into perspective when considering whether blogging is the right avenue for your company to build community.
The real value of a B2B blog
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in the value of building community in today’s corporate environment. Intellicore Design Consulting has shifted our whole business model to providing on-demand business solutions that all have a community-based focus in some way. The question then isn’t whether we believe building community is valuable, but whether blogging is one of the best ways to do so for any given company.
For some companies, and Intellicore Design is one of the them, the answer is yes – but blogging may not be right for all companies. So why blog?
The numero uno reason to publish a B2B blog is the same reason to build a B2B website – to generate revenues.
So what is the true measure of success for a corporate blog? Conversions – and only conversions (and by the way, that’s equally true for traditional websites).
If you aren’t a marketeer, conversions means a visitor action that will lead to revenue generation – emailing or calling in for more information (which launches the sales cycle), or completing an online purchase.
In my mind, the second reason to B2B blog is to establish your employees as authoritative voices, and through your employees establish your company as the go-to provider in your market segment. And the whole point of being an authoritative voice is…see numero uno reason.
Put that into perspective because when you understand conversions is the true measure of your sites’ success, then you understand other metrics like number of visitors, page views, and reader comments are secondary measures.
Look at it another way. If you have a zillion visitors to your site and no conversions, then you’re site is failing to provide B2B value.
However, secondary results do have relevance. You directly increase your chance of success in accumulating conversions by increasing your visitors and their page views.
Aside from establishing authors as authoritative voices, blogs themselves are friends with search engine optimization. In other words, blogging can help your company gain rank in organic (non-paid) searches. The higher your corporate sites rank in organic searches, and the more pages, the more likely you’ll snag visitors that lead to those all important conversions.
Why blogs perform well in search engines
First, let’s look at why blogs are good for search engine optimization and why they can snag high organic placements in search engines. It comes down to:
- Keywords and key phrases – Blog articles tend to center on one subject and articles tend to be keyword or key phrase rich relative to the topic. The combination of being both keyword rich and keyword dense, makes blogs a delight for search engine spiders who reward blogs with higher organic placements.
- Fresh content – Active blogs are frequently updated. Search engines give preference to sites with new content over sites with older content.
- Each article’s page structure – With most blog platforms, the article’s title becomes the page title. If you write targeted titles that are keyword/phrase rich, then you improve your searchability.
- Coding – Blogs tend to have simple but good coding with straightforward style sheets and clear headings. Clean code attracts the search engine spiders.
- Site structure – Blogs tend to be flatter structures than traditional blogs. Some search engines are supposed to like their simplicity.
- Links (*) – More popular blogs attract links to their sites, which is something the search engines look for.
Blogging, then, has definite value in terms of organic placement.
Note (*): I’m one person with a different view on linking. Love the inbounds but am very picky about providing outbound links and especially of creating blogrolls. Why? Because I want visitors to stay within my site, and preferably jump from my blog to my main site, and linking has the potential to take them away. I do limited linking and willingly sacrifice some of the search engine value of linking in favor of keeping visitors onsite.
B2B blogging demands versus B2C
Now, we’re ready to talk about the value of B2B blogging as a marketing initiative.
Like every successful marketing or community-based activity, blogging requires an ongoing time investment to be successful.
Here’s the cool thing about blogging, though. It’s like compound interest. You have to invest for a while but once you build a critical mass, then the value of blogging compounds – into higher search engine rankings with more pages which means more folks can find your company and its products.
What’s the difference then in blogging for a B2B audience versus a B2C one? The answer in my mind is the latter requires a larger investment in time and effort.
If your intent in a B2B blog is to establish your company’s employees, and thus the company itself, as an authoritative voice, then it means you’ll want your authors and editors to invest sufficient time in writing articles with substance and depth. Figure on an average length of an authoritative article is somewhere between one to two pages in length (or 400 to 800 words).
An average investment time to create that sort of quality content? Depending on the creative abilities of your author or authors, it will take about two to three hours per article. Add in another 15 to 30 minutes once each article is posted to promote it.
The cost of creating blog content
By my math, if a blogger writes one article per week, the time investment is about 150 to 160 hours per year (assuming an average of 3 hours per article). If your author's average fully loaded compensation (salary plus benefits) is on the order of $75k per year, then your blog investment for content is about a median of almost $7,500. For a more expensive author making a $120k salary, the blog content investment would be a median of almost $12,000 per year.
salary ranges, if the blogger writes two good articles of substance per
week, then double the range to $15k - $24k per year to create content.
Does that sound like a lot? It could be cheap in terms of marketing dollars if it leads to conversions.
Consider the cost of your company's products or services. How many conversions would your blog need to generate in order to earn a positive ROI on your blogging time?
If your company's product or solution carries a high pricing point, then you might only need a single conversion to make blog content creation profitable. Consider then what might happen if your blog then led to 10 conversions per year, 50, or more.
Blogging starts to sound much more profitable relative to the time investment when you look at it that way.
Ways to manage blogging demands
There are some ways to manage blogging’s time demands. Two strategies are to post articles less frequently overall and content from a stable of authors.
Not posting frequently goes against the advice of blogging experts, most of whom insist daily posting is required. However, it’s important to set a sustainable pace for your corporate blog. Also, consider how many products your company markets and how feature rich they are. The more products and features, the more you’re likely to have to write about.
It’s better to consistently post once or twice per week and have authoritative substance, than to post daily dribble. And if you have a stable of authors from whom to pull content, then each can be assigned to write one to two articles per month, and that helps to lower the demands on any one individual.
I’m a firm believer in the value of blogging. I practice what I preach because it’s makes good business sense for us. Blogging is part of my marketing initiatives for Intellicore Design Consulting because it generates traffic for our websites and establishes us as an authoritative voice in our IT solutions niche for on-demand business solutions. Both of which will lead to conversions.
Additionally, although our Community Network blog is avenue for us to build community. We haven’t yet reached the point of generating comments in our blog – and we may not. I’ve targeted our readership towards middle management to executives and these are folks who might want information but not to spend time commenting on what they read. And that’s perfectly okay because ultimately our intent is conversions.
Now, you just have to clearly understand your business goals to see what is the best way for your company to build community and to foster a great customer experience.
If you need help, then contact us. We can help you determine the optimum community strategy for your company as well as implement for you.