Here's the first of a three part series on how to create great blog posts, e-books and YouTube videos for your Inbound Marketing. The first in this serices is about how to come up with a great, targeted blog post.
Coming Up with Great Blog Ideas
I’m a great believer in Inbound Marketing. Inbound marketing is all about drawing in potential customers with great, useful content. I’ve learned a lot from Hubspot on this one. So I got a lot of inspiration for this post on how to create a great targeted blog posts from Hubspot.
Let's get started, shall we?
Inbound Marketing 101: Deciding on Your Buyer Persona
In Inbound Marketing, what you need before you can write great targeted blog posts is a great targeted buyer personas. You need to know exactly who you’re writing for. To do that, you’re going to write a description of the ideal person you want to sell to.
A buyer persona is a description of your ideal customer, but thought about as a real-life, specific person. Buyer personas are given names, jobs, families and sometimes, even hobbies. All content you are going to create, you create for this buyer persona, as if he or she is a real prospect for your business. This is like when you were in that creative writing class and you had to write character descriptions. Only, in this case, you’re going to have to do some research first to make sure your characters are as close to your ideal customer as possible.
Start by figuring out who your current ideal customers are (or, if you’re just starting out, who your ideal future customers will be), then get to know them - really get to know them.
You could do this in various ways. You could develop a survey and send it out to your mailing list. You could choose a group of customers and hire someone to interview them. Or, you could even interview them yourself.
But, wait, don’t start yet. First you need to know the right questions to ask. You need to know what they’re interested in when it comes to buying your product or using your services. What are their concerns? What are their interests? If they’re a business owner, who do they do business with? You’ll learn quite a bit through this process and you might be surprised by some of the answers.
You also want to know their demographics. Are they mostly male or female? Are they young, middle age or older? And also, where they live and like to hang out. You should research enough so that you even know the way they talk and the type of vocabulary they use.
Why do you need this kind of detailed, personal information? Well, you’re going to use it to build your buyer persona.
You’re going to take all this information and write a character sketch of that ideal buyer or client. Give them a name and an age. Describe their likes and dislikes. Pretend you’re describing one particular person who’s your ideal customer. This will be your buyer persona, and when it’s time to write your blog post (or ebook or Youtube video script), you’ll be writing it for this buyer persona.
Brainstorm What Your Buyer Persona Needs to Know
Now that you’ve got your buyer persona, use it to brainstorm blog topics. You’ll need to consider what problems that person has that relate to your business and how you can help them solve them. Give them good, useful content, not filler. The goal is to really help them. Don't worry about trying to sell your product just yet, but rather focus solely on trying to help them solve one specific problem they're dealing with.
For instance, suppose you sell spices and other bulk food products. You know that a many of your customers are new business owners who know they want to buy in bulk, but may not know the minute differences between certain ingredients. Or they're experienced business owners who already buy your products but are branching out with their offerings. So you write an article about the differences between vanilla, vanillin, and ethyl vanillin. (oh, and just in case you're interested, only one of these is the real, genuine article.)
Consider Your Statistics
Once you’ve got some blogs under your belt, you’ll be better able to decide what topic to write next. Keep track of your individual blog statistics with an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics - noting which blog posts are more popular than others.
For instance, the vanilla article might do well, so you write more blogs about the differences between easily confused spices.
Figuring Out a Good Tone
What’s Your Style?
Before you start writing any of those great targeted blog posts, you should decide on an overall tone. What your blogs going to be like? Are they light and airy with lots of entertaining memes? Are they more informative with just a bit of pizzazz? Or are they dead serious and formal? What style you choose will be will be decided by considering your buyer persona - how do they speak and what types of words do they use to describe their business.
Consider Your Buyer Persona Again
Look back at your buyer persona, that ideal customer. Is your buyer persona scientist steve, who is obsessed with all those crazy chemicals? Then you would write in a more professional tone and keep it pretty serious.
If on the other hand, your buyer persona is Broadway Betty, a fun-loving, party girl actress? Then you would have a little more fun, writing in a way that speaks to a person like her.
Seems like you're starting to get the idea.
Deciding on the Best Length
Look the Statistics
The best length for great targeted blog posts is a hot topic on the internet. It’s easy to get statistics on it and numbers are fun to run. Some people say longer is better (maybe, but maybe not). Take this older article from SerpIQ. Although even they admit that good articles are getting shorter - and that article was posted in 2012. This study on Medium’s headline says a seven minute read (about 1700 words) seems to be ideal. But if you read through the post, they admit that what this really means is that people will stay around long enough to read 1700 words. The takeaway they come out with is that if it’s good, people will read through the whole thing.
From a writer’s perspective, your best bet, similar to books really, is to just write what the post demands. If it takes 500 words to do the job, write 500 words. If it’s more of a 1500-word post, write that many words.
Consider Your Subject and Persona
You should still consider your buyer persona and your subject, though. If you feel like your buyer persona has a shorter attention span or less time to read, like a busy executive, then maybe you should narrow the focus of your blogs and make them shorter.
You should also consider your subject. Are you writing in-depth reviews? Then, yes, they’re going to need to be longer than a quick post about marketing fails.
Writing great targeted blog posts isn’t an exact science. In the end, you’ll have to try and fail and poke and prod until you’ve crafted a great targeted blog. But if you carefully create your buyer persona and really have a good feel for who they are, you should be able to find a problem they are facing, help them solve it and do it all in an interesting way that keeps them reading.
As always, I'd love to hear your feedback, comments and especially questions on this post, so don't feel shy.
Stay tuned next blog for how to make a great targeted YouTube video!