It's probably nothing new when you hear that you need to blog. "What's it gonna do for me," you ask? Well... it can mean all the difference in the number of good leads that you bring in through your website. And that should help you increase sales.
We often hear, "Blogging takes time and it uses my resources." This is true. And there's no point in doing something just to do it. It has to produce results, aka: more leads who better match your target audience(s). So, how do you blog to increase leads? Here are three things you need to be sure you do to:
1. Carefully Craft Your Blog Content to Answer Questions
When someone is looking for a solution to their problem, there is a high likelihood their search includes the specific question they have. These will often start with phrases like:
- "What is..."
- "How do I..."
- "Should I..."
This is a relatively new phenomenon. For a long time we'd just type in phrases or parts of sentences when looking for results. As Google has improved its algorithm, and as we've gotten more comfortable with searching online for answers, we tend to ask the whole question as our search query. Google will then produce a set of results that they feel most closely matches the answer to the question.
Yes, you could pay for ads to be in those results. But wouldn't it be better if your blog title matched one of these commonly asked questions from your target audience?
So how do you get in that set of results? You've got it... answer the question. Include both the question and the answer in your body copy.
If you're not sure who you're specifically targeting when you write, it's best to start with creating Personas of your target audience members. They're great for helping you really stay focused as you write. (Here is our guide for creating personas that you can download.)
2. Write Blogs Targeting People at Various Points in the Buying Journey
Even if you had only one product to sell, there is more than one question potential buyers, or even your current customers, would have. You'll have visitors coming to your blogs to find answers at various points in their process of making a decision.
- Some are just starting out with trying to find a solution to their problem. They're looking for options and ideas. You can provide content that's helpful to someone at the early stages of decision-making.
- Other visitors may have a general idea of their options but need to do some more research. This is sometimes referred to as middle-of-the funnel. This may not be their first time on your website to look at information, and at this point, they're starting to look at some specific options and compare pricing. Do you have a pricing page? If not, consider one. I know it sounds a little crazy, but it can help you weed out people who aren't a good fit for your ideal customer persona. It's a good idea to use pillar pages as the main landing page for a topic cluster. This will help provide a set of resources they may need to answer this question and others that people at this point in the buying process commonly ask. It looks something like this:
- Capturing the lead is the ultimate goal, right? While there can be opportunities to capture the visitor's information throughout the buying journey, you need a bottom-of-the-funnel lead capture option at a minimum. Whether this is a free demo or access to a webinar, offer something that is more than "request a quote." Asking for a quote tends to indicate that they're ready to buy and that may not be the case, especially if it's a software product or something else that can be demonstrated.
- You might also have existing customers who are interested in adding other products or services. Have information available to answer questions that you may hear from existing customers. Their questions may be different from those you haven't worked with you. Enlist the help of your sales and customer service teams to find out what current customers ask as they're considering adding products or services to what they've already purchased from you.
3. Use Video to Keep Things Interesting
Have you ever thought, "It would be easier to just explain the answer to this question rather than write it all out"? The flip of that is true too. Sometimes people would rather just watch, or listen, to the answer rather than have to spend a lot of time reading an answer.
Especially because you're answering a lot of questions in the blogs, why not just give your answer in a 1-2 minute video that's supported by more detailed information in the blog post? The key here is to do some of both. You don't have to go on and on for 20 minutes in a video. Give the highlights and get them interested in reading the full blog.
Video results will often show up above the regular text page results in Google results. This is a great opportunity to be found higher in the results.
Should you use YouTube or a Premium Video Service?
Short answer: Both.
Long answer: Get a version of your video on the second most-used search engine in the world: YouTube. Google will show relevant videos in search results and people go out to YouTube and simply search for videos on the topic they're interested in. This means you've got to put it out there. Just be sure to include your contact information at the end.
Also, use a premium video service like Wistia or VidYard to get your original video content loaded into your website. Not only can you customize the video player to your brand, but you can include a call-to-action. And, one of the most important things is getting the content transcribed and added into the website code so that the content of the video is a part of what Google can read too. Remember, you don't have to tell people to visit your website at the end of a video on your website. Try to have a different ending than what you used for YouTube.
What kind of video quality and cost will it take?
You're probably wondering how you'd shoot these videos and how much is that going to cost. It can vary widely depending on how serious you are about this. Producing video has proven time and time again to be a great way to increase visits to the website which, if done right, should also increase in leads.
The good news? You can start with a small investment and work your way up!
The key? just get it done.
Make sure it's not blurry, too bouncy and that you can clearly hear the person talking. The rest can be added to and enhanced over time. Viewers are not too worried about where you're standing and what you look like if you have the answer to a question they'd really like answered. And... you are either a content expert or know one in your company that can give you a hand at getting these produced.
Get Started Solving Problems and Increasing Leads
At the end of the day, it's all about increasing visits from the right types of people to your website. By creating content, both written and video, in blog format that specifically answers commonly asked questions, you're going to help your customers move closer to requesting a demo and/or a quote. Help them out through this process. Grow their trust in your company to help them solve the problem at hand.
Happy blogging (and video shooting)!
Originally published November 2014. Updated May 2019.