Onsite blogs are important because
However, it’s important to have complementary forms of written content to fully round out your strategy.
Here are five of the most prevalent alternatives to blogging:
No matter what type of business you have or what your ultimate goals are, a landing page should be a part of your strategy. As a standalone page, your landing page will serve as the target destination for whichever segment of your audience you choose to funnel to it—for example, you could use social media or PPC advertising to drive targeted users to the appropriate page.
The goal of your landing page should be to drive your users to a conversion. How you define that conversion is up to you; for e-commerce sites, that conversion is a product purchase, but for B2B companies, a conversion could be the filling out of a short information form.Because it’s your conversion gateway, the copy of your landing page is some of the most important written content you’re going to have. Take your time and develop the most concise, most appealing wording you can to maximize your potential return.
Whether you have an ecommerce store or an informational website, visitors to your website will read your landing page copy, even if they’re only skimming the content for main points.
The main groups of website visitors who will read your copy include:
This is why it’s critical to craft effective copy for your landing pages. You’re going to capture people at all stages of the buying journey.
Good landing page copy can convert visitors into leads, paying customers, fans, and followers. Whether people find your landing pages from the search engine results pages, other articles, or PPC ads, every visitor is a potential conversion. The quality of your landing page copy will determine whether or not conversions happen.
Although blogs can sometimes work as a landing page, they’re not technically landing pages. True landing pages are more like stand-alone sales pages like you’d use in a paid ad campaign. The copy is specifically crafted to speak to the audience you’re targeting and it’s not usually just for informational purposes.
Where blog posts will still retain your website’s full layout, including your main navigation, that main navigation is omitted on landing pages. In this way, having landing pages with excellent copy gives you a better chance at generating leads and sales.
Know your market well. To write effective landing page copy, you need to know your market inside and out so your copy can speak to their pain points and desires. This is best done by a professional copywriter.
Hire a professional copywriter. Convincing sales copy isn’t easy to write, and it involves much more than just writing content that sounds good. Effective sales copy that converts is often grammatically incorrect and often uses plenty of slang, dramatic punctuation, and interesting formatting. What sells isn’t content your high school English teacher would approve of – it’s content that draws people into a story and persuades them to take a specific action.
Use power words. There are plenty of power words that can be used to make your landing page copy more convincing. Here are 150 of those words.
Always ask for the sale. Finally, remember to ask for the sale. Just like a sales person would ask for the sale when talking to leads in person, your sales pages need to be direct. If you don’t ask for it directly, chances are, you won’t get the sale. In short: tell people to buy your product.
Social media marketing should already be a part of your content marketing strategy, but you need to use those platforms for more than just basic updates and simplistic responses. Social media posting is a written art, and it’s much more complex than people realize.
Because you have a shorter space and shorter attention spans to deal with, you’re going to need to reduce your content to the bare minimum. It’s an entirely different format than a blog post, where you have room to elaborate on your ideas. Instead of focusing on detail or value, you need to focus on conciseness, and appeal to your customers as immediately and as clearly as possible.
The best way to improve your social media posting game is to measure the effectiveness of each of your posts. Use Facebook analytics and regular observations to determine which of your posts seem to get the most attention—are there certain topics or phrases that get more attention than others? Refine your strategy accordingly.
Your fans and followers, along with leads, customers, and potential customers will read your social media updates. It’s essentially the same mix of people who will read your landing pages, but they’ll find you on social media instead of through a search engine.
Social media updates help you increase brand awareness, develop a positive reputation, manage PR situations, generate leads, collect followers, and engage with your market and/or customers in a public space. This is important because when potential customers see your positive interactions with people on social media, they’ll start to feel more fondly about your brand and are more likely to make a purchase.
For the most part, social media posts are a good way to drive traffic to your blog. For instance, on Facebook and other social networks, you can link a blog post and publish a quick update and your interested fans will go see what your link is all about.
Twitter is a little different. While you can certainly publish links, you can actually embed Tweets on your blog, which can give you more content ideas. For example, you can embed a Tweet and make an entire blog post about the subject discussed in that Tweet.
Be brief. Short social media posts are best. Most people are looking at social media on a mobile device and don’t want to read long posts. Save the lengthy content for your linked pages.
Publish relevant content. What do your fans like? Don’t just publish self-serving content like links to your products or services. Post content that gets your fans interested in a conversation, even if it’s about current events.
Post regularly. Fans will unfollow you if you don’t post regularly. You don’t have to post daily or even weekly, but post at least once a month and make it count.
Send your fans to a lead-capturing page. Make sure the links you post to social media contain a sign-up form. This will help you capture more leads for your email marketing campaign.
Whitepapers are dying in popularity due to their length and the requirement of effort involved, but they are still a highly valuable form of written content to use for your business. Select a topic in your industry—try to be as specific as possible—and write in as much detail as you can about it.
Then, use your whitepaper as a bargaining chip. Offer it as compensation for some type of user action—such as a reward for filling out a form or a questionnaire—or use it as a marketing tool to show off your true value. It’s your chance to show off what a major authority you are in the industry, provide valuable information to your customer, and immediately improve your reputation as a result.
If you’ve written a truly great whitepaper, you can even try to sell it as an independent product and recoup some of the costs you spent creating it.
Just about everyone will read a whitepaper at some point if the content comes up in a search and is relevant to something they’re looking for. Generally speaking, white papers are more often read by business professionals because they’re looking for in-depth information, facts, stats, and services.
Since whitepapers are designed to promote services and solutions related to your business, they can be a good PR and marketing tool. Whitepapers also make an excellent lead magnet for collecting email addresses.
Whitepapers complement your blog by making your email signup forms more enticing and having whitepapers available makes your business look more professional and dedicated in your industry.
Publish multiple whitepapers. Don’t just publish one and leave it at that. Make sure you have a variety of whitepapers that cover several different important topics related to your business.
Use numbered lists. Whitepapers tend to be long – around 2500 words – and are easier to read when you use lists. Numbered, unordered bullets, tips, questions, and other types of lists are excellent.
Market your business. Don’t forget to use your whitepaper to actively market your business. Put calls to action in various places and link back to your site from within your whitepaper. This is easy to do with a PDF file.
Cite your sources. People expect whitepapers to be full of facts, figures, graphs, charts, and statistics. Include plenty of details and remember to cite your sources.
Specific case studies are valuable because they describe a real example of your company’s work. Start off by describing your customer or client, including a description of how they were before your involvement, then describe the products and services you offered followed by a description of how they ended up. Use statistics and specific facts to back up your case, and try not to be too salesy with it—your goal should be to logically and factually demonstrate why your relationship was valuable to your client, not to directly sell.
That being said, case studies can be a valuable sales tool to offer on your site and distribute to your potential leads. Visualizing the type of results that are possible, in the form of a real story, has an incredibly powerful effect.
Many people read case studies when the case study comes up in search results. However, there are groups of people who specifically search for case studies to read. Most of the time, people who read your case studies will be potential customers or potential business partners.
Case studies give you a chance to highlight the successes your business has created in your industry. If you have a service or product that gets good results, you’ll want to publish a case study that details that success to impress potential customers. The information will show your potential customers how you can help them achieve their goals just like situation you highlighted.
Case studies can help your website rank higher in the search engines and they can also get you some organic backlinks. When a case study is impressive, it tends to be cited, and therefore linked, more often than other resources. This will help you get a stronger backlink profile to improve your SEO ranking.
Highlight your ideal customer(s). Of all the results you can choose from to highlight in a case study, choose results that your ideal customers can relate to because that’s how you’ll get more leads and sales. If you serve multiple segments of a major market, be sure to include multiple results so that more of your market can relate.
Don’t exaggerate. Avoid exaggerating your results for any reason. If your current results aren’t good enough to warrant a case study, wait until you have better results.
Include a call to action. Always use a call to action to encourage readers to contact you in some way.
Update your case studies. Updating your case studies is important because it enables you to show the long-term results your services are getting for your clients.
Of all the types of written content I’ve covered, this is probably the most difficult to accomplish, especially if you’re a startup or a small business with limited resources. Coming up with an idea for original research alone takes a substantial amount of effort, not to mention the exhaustive follow-through. Depending on what you’re researching and compiling, it could require a full-time team member.
In any case, producing original research makes you an instant magnet for inbound links. Writers and industry players everywhere will be dying to cite your brand-new information. It also bolsters your reputation as a thought leader in the industry, since you’ll be producing the information before anyone else. And like with whitepapers, if your original research is high enough quality, you can introduce it as a paid product, and make a little extra money on the side.
Most people who read original research are looking for some very specific answers or detailed insights related to the topic.
Original research will give you more in-depth content to help you rank in the search engines. It will also boost your credibility and help you become seen as an authority in your industry.
You can publish links to your original research on your blog with a more general and short explanation to get people interested. Each time you publish new research, you can create a blog post and sent that out in an email newsletter to inform your subscribers.
Be thorough. People expect research papers to be thorough. If you don’t include enough information, readers won’t take your research seriously. This is time-consuming content to produce, but it’s always worth the effort.
Update your research. If you find new studies, new data, or new information that will make a difference to your readers, update your research papers to include this information.
Try to get your research published elsewhere. It looks better when your research has also been published in professional industry-specific publications. If possible, try to get your research published elsewhere – it will boost your credibility.
Cite your sources. Just like any other piece of content that involves statistics and fine details, make sure you cite your sources and use only original, credible sources.
Don’t forget – you still need a blog
Although there are many types of content you can publish on your website, they’re not exactly substitutes for each other. Each type of content, including a blog, exists for a specific purpose. To run a successful website, you need to have all types of content, including a blog.
How to create an effective blog
First things first, if you’re going to create a blog it needs to be effective. What makes a blog effective? a couple of things.
Your blog articles need to contain content that speaks directly to your target market and persuades them to take some kind of conversion action. For instance, the content should aim to convince people to sign up for your newsletter, buy a product or service, watch a video, follow you on social media, or perform some other important action.
You’ll know if you’re publishing relevant content by looking at your website stats in Google Analytics. If you have a high bounce rate, it usually means your content and you traffic are a mismatch. Now, it could be that your content isn’t specific enough to hold visitor attention, but chances are, you’re just generating the wrong traffic. In this sense, you’ll need to make sure you’re generating traffic from your target market rather than from a general source.
To be effective, your content needs to be read. To get your content read, it needs to be found in the search engines. That requires some search engine optimization.
All of your blog posts need to be optimized for SEO. It doesn’t matter which blogging platform you use, although it’s better if you have a self-hosted content management system, like WordPress, because free hosted solutions (like Blogger) tend to have limited features that make SEO difficult. Sometimes a paid plan on a hosted blogging platform still won’t give you enough control to thoroughly optimize your blog. Research your different options. What some people regard as the best blogging platform may not support your SEO needs. Although, one benefit to using a free blogging platform like Blogger is being searchable within an existing community of similar blog sites.
It’s nice to have an open source free platform for your blog, but that’s not always the best choice. Although open source software is amazing, not all free and open source blogging platforms are the same. Just because something helps you build a blog doesn’t mean it’s good for content management. Your ideal blogging platform must meet your specific needs.
Ultimately, the best free blogging platform is WordPress. It’s an open source blogging platform, website builder, and content management system in one. When you use this open source platform, you get access to thousands of custom themes and SEO tools in the form of plugins. Best of all, you can install WordPress on your website without having to pay an additional fee.
WordPress has many benefits, but the best one is ease of use. Like other platforms, some WordPress themes come with a drag and drop editor to make editing your own blog easy. It’s one of the best alternatives to Blogger that still comes with a good website builder. It’s also open source, which means you can hire a developer to create as many add ons (plugins) as you need, or you can use existing third-party plugins to add functionality.
Beware of content management platforms that offer a free plan, but require you to host your site on their server. A free blogging platform is not the best solution for a business because you don’t want to have two separate URLs. You may even want other authors to have accounts and post on your site, and that’s easiest with WordPress.
Every business is unique, so you may not need to include all these types of content in your specific strategy. However, it’s a good idea to at least consider forms of content as alternatives to the traditional SEO blog post. Diversifying your strategy can only be beneficial for your search engine rankings, for your brand reputation, and for your overall user experience.
Content is king, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.Through content marketing, businesses can improve their online reputation by appearing more authoritative, attract new customers by offering valuable information, and even get higher search visibility through SEO. While visual forms of content, like images and videos have taken many forms as supporting players in mainstream content strategies, written content has remained relatively stagnant in the form of an onsite blog.
Want more information on content writing and content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.