Three types of content for small business blogs (based on the stuff that worked for gaming fansites)

Back when I was building gaming sites our team followed a trifecta for content: News, Opinions, and Guides.

These work just as well for small business blogs.

Check it:

News: Be a reporter.

We wore our reporter hats for this stuff, covering everything from community gossip to breaking news. If we weren’t the first we would be the best, citing multiple sources.

For a business blog, you can take major news stories related to your business and cover them in a way that makes sense to your customers.

Opinions: Establish your voice.

Essays, perspectives, heated rants, speculation and punditry. I loved writing this stuff. It was lengthy and original. This type of content got attention and drove conversations.

If you’re blogging for a business, think about the topics your customers care about. You could also write reviews of products or services related to your business. I’m sure you have an opinion on them.

Your opinions are unique. Your voice is unique. Writing editorials and opinions elevates your voice. It helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace. It separates you from your competitors.

Guides: Share your expertise.

Our guides were epic, and we tried to position ourselves as the go-to resource for everything. If you had a question about a game we covered, we’d either already have the answer, or we’d go and find the answer and add it to our site.

If you’re building a site for a business, think about the questions that your customers have. What common topics come up? What advice do you consistently give? Producing this type of instructional content presents you and your business as a knowledgeable expert.

“But I hate writing!”

If you don’t fancy yourself a writer, here’s a suggestion: hire one!

You don’t need to be the one writing all this stuff. You just need to be the one who can provide the information that fuels the writing.

Bring a writer in to take your knowledge and translate it to the written word. Ditto for audio or video producers that can help you break into podcasts or video content.

Marketers shouldn’t own the entire customer lifecycle.

Marketers must now own the complete journey of the customer lifecycle, not just think about cherry-picking touchpoints along the way. The end goal is no longer to simply convert a lead into a customer. It’s about maximizing the lifetime value of loyal customers who will come back again and again.

via Campaign Monitor

I don’t agree that marketers should own the entire lifecycle, but I do agree that marketing should be consulted and factored into the whole lifecycle.

Ditto for all the other departments and teams. Nobody owns the whole thing, but everyone is aware of it, and involved in shaping it.

For example, looking at this quote: “It’s about maximizing the lifetime value of loyal customers.”

What about customer satisfaction? NPS? Product performance? User success? Ignoring those other factors is detrimental to the LTV, but when you’re focusing on everything from a pure marketing perspective, you might not pick up on that.

There are areas of specialization and focus on the business or product side. But when you’re on the customer or user side, it’s all just one experience.

Tear down the silos.

Reviews are critical for local search.

The basic conclusions of the study are that: (1) organic ranking factors (e.g., links, keywords, anchor text, etc.) boost local visibility; and (2) reviews are critical. The study argues that “local and organic search algorithms are still highly interconnected.” It adds that while Google is trying to include unique variables in the local algorithm, “traditional organic SEO tactics” are effective to rank locally.

via Local ranking factors study finds reviews, organic SEO best practices boost local visibility (Search Engine Land)

Easy win for local small businesses. Add a little “nudge” on invoices, email communications, and in-store signage reminding customers to leave a review.

Before that, of course, you gotta make sure you’re set up on Google My Business.

A proven case study formula.

Case studies generally follow a tried and true formula: How Person A achieved XYZ by using Product B. What makes the difference between a dry, inauthentic story to one that truly captivates is how you tell it. A good case study shares the elements of a good story, period:

  • Protagonist: a relatable customer from an aspirational company
  • Tension: a portrait of their workflow and challenges before using your product
  • Resolution: how they solved it by replacing their workflow with your product

Tension is the driving force of your case study. It grabs the reader’s interest, puts them in your customer’s shoes, and without it, your resolution (and “BUY NOW!” call-to-action) will sound completely unconvincing.

via Make customer enthusiasm work for you (Inside Intercom)

Case studies are content that close deals and create new customers. I think businesses, large and small, aren’t sharing those success stories nearly enough.

Maybe because they haven’t prioritized it. Maybe because they haven’t thought about it. Or maybe because they just aren’t talking to their customers as often as they should be?

ads.txt

I’m diggin’ the new ads.txt initiative from IAB:

The mission of the ads.txt project is simple: Increase transparency in the programmatic advertising ecosystem. Ads.txt stands for Authorized Digital Sellers and is a simple, flexible and secure method that publishers and distributors can use to publicly declare the companies they authorize to sell their digital inventory.

I found out about this via Google’s Doubleclick for Publishers documentation:

Use of ads.txt is not mandatory, but is highly recommended. The ads.txt file can help you protect your brand from counterfeit inventory that is intentionally mislabelled as originating from a specific domain, app, or video. Declaring authorized sellers can help you receive more advertiser spend that might have otherwise gone toward counterfeit inventory.

While I’m not doing much ad management these days, I think it’s valuable to look at both sides of the (current) ecosystem, at what’s happening on both the publisher and advertiser side of things.