As a small business leader juggling multiple roles, researching and writing valuable content probably gets buried in your daily to-do list, and outsourcing content creation can be expensive with no guarantee of measureable ROI. In the B2B space, overlooking the value of blogging can put you at a huge disadvantage. In fact, B2B companies that blog see 67% more leads than their non-blogging counterparts.
You don’t have to resort to putting out mediocre content or spend hundreds on a blog post written by someone outside your industry. Your team has deep insight into your customers and industry— you have a strong content strategy and resources within your own walls. If you want to have one of the best company blogs out there, you need an employee blogging program.
But how do you get the sales or tech team to write, let alone create content that propels the sales cycle?
Here are some real ways we’ve helped clients incentivize content creation among their teams — and even better — extract employee-generated content and launch a strong employee blogging program that fuels conversions.
1. Designate an employee blogging program manager
Ideally, someone from the marketing team should take the reins with your blogging initiative from A to Z. Without a dedicated project manager, your dreams of creating rich content will quickly turn to dust. This person should be in charge of communicating the program details to your team (and following up), collecting and qualifying blog posts, scheduling and publishing, creating and distributing rewards and sharing success stories.
Most importantly, you need to understand that this is a time-consuming but highly valuable task. Make sure your liaison has time to dedicate to your company blogging initiative or rearrange priorities so it doesn't get dwarfed by other responsiblities.
2. Set up an attractive rewards program
Like the C-suite, your employees probably don’t have much time or energy to commit to projects that stray from their normal scope of work (like blogging). Incentivize them to write by offering rewards to team members who submit blogs that meet your criteria. Take it a step further, and up the ante for when they hit key milestones. Here are some example rewards we set up for one client:
- Reward: $50 Amazon gift card for submitting an approved blog
- Bonus: $300 Amazon gift card once your blog surpasses 500 hits (or whatever number makes sense for your blog)
- Double Bonus: $1,000 if you break the current record of 2,100 visitors to one blog post in 3 months. (Again, these numbers could be much higher or lower based on your average traffic numbers).
3. Help light your employees' creative fire
Your employees are deep in the trenches every day. No one has better insight into your clients and prospects. Help jog their blogging creativity and extract fresh ideas with these questions:
- What did you help a client with today?
- What new challenge or problem did a customer recently have?
- What problem did you run into recently and how did you solve it?
- What have you read recently that helped you overcome a common industry problem?
- What trends are you seeing in the field? How will they affect your industry?
4. Equip your team with some basic blogging guidelines
For employees who aren’t natural-born writers, this type of content marketing strategy creating content for the company blog can feel intimidating. Ease your team’s fears by providing some blogging best practices. (Your marketing team should also review and edit posts to maintain consistency with style and grammar.)
Before your team starts writing (or possibly even settles on a topic), provide them with these blogging must-haves:
- Audience: Start by identifying who the post should speak to. A business owner with a specific need? An IT manager juggling too many responsibilities? Nailing down your audience is the most important step. Thinking from your ideal reader's perspective will help you focus on providing value and make your message stick with the right people.
- Pain points: Now that you understand who you’re writing for, what pain points does this audience have that your blog post is helping them overcome? Try to focus on solving one specific pain point to keep your writing clear and focused.
- Takeaways: You need to answer the "What's in it for me?"question — and fast. Without giving away actionable tips and tricks or exclusive information, readers will quickly bounce. In fact, only 2 out of 10 visitors will navigate beyond the headline. Center your post on solving a common problem and eliminate any tangents distracting from that.
- SEO keywords: Before you begin writing, choose one keyword/phrase to center your post around. This should appear in the headline and a few times throughout your post (naturally, of course). To help choose an effective keyword, go back to your audience and pain points. What phrases or search terms might they use when searching online to solve this particular problem? It’s OK if your keyword is more than a couple words, but try to make it as concise and relevant to your audience as possible.
- Goals/next steps: Effective blogging is helpful (solves a problem), informative (provides new, relevant information) and conversational (uses deliberate language and speaks directly to readers). But it should also be purposeful.
Decide which action your target audience should take after reading the post. If there’s a particular service that aligns with your blog post or even an existing blog post that offers more information, be sure to link back and give readers an opportunity to continue the education process. However, your underlying goals should never come at the expense of quality. Providing new, valuable information and establishing thought leadership should be the primary objectives.
5. Don’t forget to promote your blog content
Your team members poured their soul into writing a compelling, value-driven blog post. Don’t let it die a slow painful death on the web! The biggest way to get traction with blogging is to share it with your networks (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and to publish it on your LinkedIn page. Is your team part of any relevant LinkedIn groups that could benefit from the content? Encourage them to share their posts there. Setting up rewards for new visitors and hits can also incentivize them to share their posts.
6. Loop your team into keyword research
Make your content marketing strategy go further by involving your employees. Are you making a push to increase rankings for a specific keyword this quarter? As you monitor and research keywords, pass along low-hanging fruit for your team to use as blog inspiration and to fuel your marketing campaigns.
7. Show your employees the value of their efforts
If your team members don't understand the value of blogging, they’ll be hard-pressed to get involved. Did a particular blog post contribute to closing an upsell opportunity? Did an employee blog post pick up some serious SEO steam? Share success stories with your team to show how blogging fuels the sales cycle and the company’s bottom line. (Here's how to set up goals in Google Analytics.) It’s important to remember that the ROI of content isn’t instant, so success might not become apparent for months or years down the road.
Employee blogging programs are a powerful way to display your team's knowledge, sharing your brand voice and engaging customers and prospects at every stage of the funnel. Your team members shoud be the ones contributing!
We've found success employing these tactics with our clients and encourage you to give them a try. If you need help getting your employee-generated content initiative off the ground, learn how Human Marketing's content marketing services can help.
What other tips have you found helpful for incentivizing smarter employee-generated content through employee blogging programs?