The goal of a business blog is to bring in target readers to the business’s website and help convert them into paying customers.
The two key words in that sentence are “targeted” and “paying” and really the first leads into the second.
In my experience writing thousands of blog posts and with working at GBW I’ve come to realize that blogging seems to have the most impact when businesses look at it as an early-stage and often the earliest stage of the sales funnel.
People are searching for all kinds of information online. When you answer their questions, they find your posts and get introduced to your brand and what you’re selling. But it’s early in the funnel.
The good news is that your blog can earn their trust, which moves them through the sales funnel.
That’s how we look at blogging at GBW, but we still see the occasional mistake on business blogs that can lead to ineffective business blogging.
Here are the ones we see the most.
1. Business-Level Blog Posts
A business-level post focuses on answering a question a customer might have about your business.
For example, a customer might ask, “How much does your service cost?”. It’s fine to answer these questions on your website. The occasional blog post on these is fine, but this content is better for the main selling pages on your site. The people asking these questions are already deep into your sales funnel.
For blog posts you’re looking for industry-level posts.
These posts focus on the questions your target customer has relating to the industry. This is before they even know you exist. They’re asking things like, “How do I fix my leaky roof?” or “How do I get more website traffic?”.
The potential audience is bigger for industry-level posts and you’re still targeting the exact type of person that will buy your service or product.
2. Too Many Calls To Action
This is one that is common in all website design, not just blog design.
It seems like it’s in our nature (mine included) to cover all bases when it comes to selling to a customer. We want to make sure we cover all possible actions that a customer would want to take.
The result is a blog that has calls to action for email lists, five products and links to every possible page on the site. They all usually stand out and the result is a page that looks like an explosion of contrasting colors.
It’s confusing for readers, distracting them from the content they came to view in the first place. And it takes away from the main call to action that you want the readers to take as the next step in the sales funnel.
3. The Wrong Call To Action
The point of blogging is to acquire customers. That’s really the end game for all marketing, but with blogging you’re engaging earlier in the relationship.
Think of it like going on a first date. At the end you typically wouldn’t ask the person to marry you.
So why would you ask a first-time blog reader to purchase your product at the end of the post?
Sales funnels all vary in length, but most seem to have at least a few more steps that just one, two or three. So with your blog you’re only looking to get the person to take the next comfortable and logical step.
For most blogs that will be getting the person to signup for the email newsletter so they can get more answers to their industry-level questions. It could be sending them to another post or to an e-book to answer more of their questions.
It might even be sending them to your Services page where you can start telling them about what you do.
You can still have the Contact page and product pages linked on the site, but make those CTAs smaller so they don’t overpower your main CTAs.
4. The Header Is Too Big
This is probably more of a personal pet peeve, but when I visit a website I want to see a title high up on the page so I know I’m on the right page. Too many sites today have big images at the top with top navigation that is too big.
Small headers are where it’s at especially with more people using their smartphones to access websites. The title on the page in the first header is important. You want people to have validation that they’re on the right page or they’ll leave instantly.
5. Showing Full Posts On Archive Pages
I’m a fan of showing snippets on the main blog page for a few reasons.
One of the reasons is not for pageviews. Blogging is about discovery and conversions. You can achieve these if you show full posts on archive pages, but you’re missing out on a couple things.
When people are on your /blog/ page, which is one of the archive pages, they can read multiple posts without going to new pages. But there will be more distractions taking away from the call to action that you want a person to take at the end of your post.
Also, archive pages with full content are often slow because they have to load all the images and embedded items from each full post.
You want every page on your blog to be blazing fast.
Bonus: Slow Website
The last point reminded me about page speed so I’m throwing in a bonus point.
Get with your host, designer and developer and make your site as fast as possible. You want the blog to load almost instantly. This increases traffic and gets people to stay on your blog longer, which is how you earn their trust and start working them through your sales funnel.
If people come to a page and it takes more than a couple seconds to load, they’ll be annoyed at best and they’ll leave at worst.
These mistakes are all common, but the good news is that they can all be fixed relatively quick and easily.
I would say that they’re all important to fix. Each one will make your blog more likely to succeed in your goal of getting more customers for your business.
If you notice that you’re doing a few of these then get them fixed on your own if you can or work with your designer, developer and host to make a few tweaks. It’ll be well worth the effort.