4. Educate and help readers. "Instead of pushing readers to buy your product, offer them value: information, advice and insight," says Ed McNamara, director of communications and marketing, SHI International, a provider of software, hardware and custom IT services. For example, "educate them on the types of questions they should be asking themselves and their vendors/providers [or] if your product or service has obtained industry certifications, explain the process involved."
You can also use your blog to "define [and discuss potential confusing] industry terms or buzzwords," he says. The goal is to "create a more informed buyer and build a relationship with your readers so that when they're ready to buy, they come to the trusted source, not the salesperson."
5. Keep content timely and capitalize on trends. "Try to find ways to bring trending topics into the fold," says DJ Waldow, director of marketing of Zignal Labs, a real-time, cross-media, story-tracking platform. "For example, if your company specializes in data analytics, you could regularly feature data analysis on pop culture moments, like the recent Mayweather-Pacquiao fight [or the Triple Crown], to both showcase your company's technology and provide fun and interesting statistics on popular brands, events and people," he says. It's a great way to engage readers "and often leads to potential customers wanting to know more about [your] company."
"We always look for opportunities to tie [our] Hard Hat Chat [blog] posts to what's happening in our industry and the world around us," says Chuck Taylor, director of operations, Englewood Construction. "For example, after a fire in a local mall, we wrote Commercial Construction Lessons Learned from the Sephora Fire at The Shops at North Bridge.' And in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, we posted Lessons from BP: The Ultimate Checklist for Commercial Construction.' These timely topics keep our blog relevant and have landed Hard Hat Chat on the blogrolls and news feeds of industry websites."
6. Feature posts about or written by customers (and employees). "Your customers add credibility to your brand and your blog," says Josh Manion, CEO, Ensighten, a digital marketing firm. "Featuring them in blog posts, as authors or in Q&A interviews [or case studies], can be mutually beneficial."
Similarly, have different employees contribute posts, or do employee Q&As and human interest pieces. They can help readers relate better to your company or brand.
An added bonus: When you "highlight people, [they will] do the marketing for you," says Travis Marziani, co-owner, B Dancewear. "Everyone loves good press, and they will share it with all their friends and their entire network."
7. Reward your readers. Reward blog readers by informing them of new product releases, changes to your products or services and providing them with coupon codes and discounts on your products or services.
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