How We Grew Our Blog 25x With the Right Content [B2B Beat]
May 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in our “Building Blogs” series. In the first installment, we discussed the laser focus we have on our audience.
We have big, hairy audacious goals for our blog. We want to create content that our audience needs. That our audience wants. And, when the stars align, that our audience loves.
In the previous post in this “Building Blogs” series, we discussed how the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog strives to be a customer-focused, data-driven operation. And the way we serve our audience of digital marketers with the blog is simple: We provide them a variety of useful content on a regular basis.
Here’s how we develop content for our blog, which has boosted our number of subscribers by 28.1 times over the past 18 months:
Be of Use
Our audience of digital marketers faces a tremendous and constant upheaval. Over the past two decades, the rise of the Internet, search, marketing technology, social media, and mobile have transformed the marketer’s role.
In this climate of change, marketers crave information. Recent research from LinkedIn found that when B2B buyers defined what they wanted from vendors, the top four were:
- Understands my company’s business model.
- Is a subject matter expert/thought leader.
- Provides valuable consultation, education, or tools.
- Knows my company’s products/services.
What do all of those attributes have in common? They’re all about the value of knowledge. And useful information is what we strive to give the digital marketing audience of the LMS blog. Marketers need to know about account-based marketing, analytics, branding, content marketing, digital marketing, ecommerce, inbound, martech, metrics, mobile, native advertising, SEO, social media marketing, and so much more.
We’ve covered each of these topics on our blog. We’ve covered some more than others. We’ve concentrated on subject areas where we feel LinkedIn can be of the biggest help and owns the most expertise. Some of the key topics where we think that is the case are content marketing, metrics, and social media marketing — especially from the professional and B2B angle.
Has it worked? We believe we have had significant success by focusing on providing avenues to knowledge for our readers. Some of our highest performing posts highlight new marketing books so marketers can expanding their knowledge and keep pace with the latest thinking in our industry.
To make sure we’re delivering the right content, we (with invaluable help from our agency TopRank Online Marketing) have evaluated the original search intent of our audience, mapped all correlating keywords, and then created content that answers the questions asked (or implied) by our audience’s search queries. The chart below shows some of the “digital marketing” and “content marketing” keywords we have sought to own, and it offers a glimpse of how our content has contributed to boosting our Google search ranking, sometimes by as many as 46 slots, over the past several months.
This focus on landing on page 1 of Google for our critical keywords is an example of our customer-focused, data-driven approach to the LMS blog in action.
Deliver a variety of content
We use the concept of the blogging food groups to help plan our editorial calendar. Using the five food groups, listed below, we ensure we provide a wide range of content for our audience:
These posts consist of research and analysis. With data on our more than 400 million members, LinkedIn has exceptional data on professionals around the globe and on how marketers interact with our platform. One of our best performing posts is our annual look at the 10 most influential brands on LinkedIn.
A side of vegetables
Thought leadership is the vegetable of blog posts. The LMS blog strives to deliver thought leadership with posts such as this one: “The Tech Marketer Difference: How Tech Marketers Differ from Non-Tech Marketers and Why It Matters.”
A serving of whole grains
These are how-to and influencer posts. We want a variety of strong voices on our blog, and we regularly provide a forum for the best minds in the digital marketing business. Here’s a guest post, “5 Rules of B2B eCommerce,” that was written by Mark Lavelle, the CEO of Magento Commerce.”
Some condiments to spice things up
A blog needs to take a stand every once a while. We heat things up occasionally with what’s known as a Tabasco post that can heat things up. For example, we made some predictions in “The B2B Marketing Trends That Will Define 2016.”
Every now and again, some chocolate cake
Man does not live by bread alone. You need some sugar sometimes. We develop light-hearted posts to boost engagement and let our audience know that even though we’re a professional network, we’re not all business all the time. Our audience got a kick out of our April Fool’s Day post, “Black Is the New Orange: We Mourn the Death of Content Marketing.”
Plus: unique content
The blogging food groups concept provides excellent guidelines for producing content, but we also expand beyond that framework. In trying to woo your audience, we recommend regularly producing content that other companies will have a hard time replicating. Using LinkedIn data, for instance, our team from the Asia-Pacific reason was able to produce a unique post showing the power of content marketing on LinkedIn for small and medium-sized businesses. We also use the blog as a conduit to introduce new products, such as LinkedIn Account Targeting.
And finally: evergreen content
To drive organic traffic to the blog, we regularly produce evergreen content that will rank high in the search engines for months or even years to come. The marketing book post mentioned above is an example. So is "55 Quotes to Inspire Marketing Greatness" and "What Is Content Marketing: Definitions from 25 Thought Leaders." Each of these posts introduces our blog to new marketers who may eventually turn into new subscribers.
Producing content at a frequency that will allow your audience to rely on you as a regular source of knowledge is crucial. Determining the right frequency for your blog, however, can be a challenge. A Content Marketing Institute study found that 57 percent of marketers said producing content consistently posed a problem for them.
When you pick a blog post frequency — whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly — we recommend sticking to it. At the LMS blog, we’ve found a cadence of one to two posts per day (including Saturday and Sunday) works for our audience and for us. At one point, we experimented with three posts per day, but the effort to produce that many posts didn’t generate more traffic, engagement or marketing-qualified leads, so we returned to our current frequency. (Hubspot and Moz conducted a joint study about frequency, and I recommend their posts on the subject as required reading for every business blog editor).
For the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions staff of four content marketers in North America, producing content at our frequency is akin to producing a daily newspaper. We borrow from the newspaper world by having an editorial calendar, which helps us get a handle on the workflow and the workload. But the three main secrets to producing blog posts at a consistent frequency are as follows:
We use the turkey slicing analogy to explain our philosophy of repurposing. View your content as a Thanksgiving turkey that you can carve up and turn into turkey sandwiches, turkey stew and turkey a la king. If you create an ebook, a white paper or any sales collateral, you can use pieces of that content to create a handful of blog posts. For “The Sophisticated Marketer’s Crash Course in Metrics and Analytics,” an ebook we produced last year, we have developed a number of blog posts that include “10 Marketing Metrics, and the Sophisticated Marketers Who Swear by Them,” and “NPS, Lifetime Value, Churn: Are You Using the Right Customer Retention Metrics?”
Beyond ebooks, we at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions produce a wide variety of content, such as webinars, videos, and podcasts. We never miss an opportunity to promote this useful content via the blog. Jason Miller, Group Manager, Content Marketing, at LinkedIn, describes this approach by paraphrasing The Dude in “The Big Lebowski”: “The blog is the social media rug that ties the room together.” What Jason means is that the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog, as it is for many companies, is a focal point in our overall content marketing strategy.
The bottom line for business bloggers? Don’t let great content go to waste.
In our next "Building Blogs" post, we'll examine the various ways we generate traffic. And to make sure you don’t miss any of the “Building Blogs” series, make sure to subscribe today to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog.
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