Why Blogging Isn’t Growing Your Business (and What to Do About It)

January 31, 2012 •

I joined a couple other B2B Marketers for a meal a few weeks ago, and the topic of content marketing and blogging came up.  This came as no surprise – I know they occasionally read our blog and can see that we are passionate on the topic.  They recounted some of their challenges with blogging, including some common challenges:

  • Getting content from subject matter experts, when these experts are also required to focus their energy on billable hours
  • Occasional missed deadlines and the need to build a backlog of content before this happens
  • Varying levels of commitment from different authors

While I’ve seen many companies experience some or all of these challenges at one point or another, as I listened and started to ask questions I realized what was happening to them – blogging had become hard because they weren’t getting anything back from it.  The above challenges really were just addressable symptoms presenting themselves from the larger malady – they hadn’t established a content strategy that showed them direct return on investment from their blogging efforts.

They needed Better Content, Not Just More Content—this broke down in to three main areas:

We Don’t Know What They Want to Know About

Simply put, my colleagues didn’t know what their audience was looking for anymore.  I think each of us at one time or another has hit a temporary wall when it comes to content ideas, but in this case they were really stuck.  Initially they turned to their Analytics, but there was no clear indication of the types of posts that performed better than others.  The solution here was easy – go back to the basics of why you are ultimately blogging for your business.

Think of the stages in your buyer’s journey and where there are most often questions, where people get stalled, or where they have objections that can best be addressed with a great piece of content.  If you think about What’s Missing in Your Content Marketing Approach – for many companies it’s creating content that functions as a part of your sales team.  This isn’t the self-promotional overt selling piece we all dislike, but instead content that is designed to subtly overcome objections and move people to the next stage in the buying cycle.

We’re Not Sure We Know What Their Buying Cycle Is Like

Thinking about content as part of the buying cycle, however, only helps if the marketing team knows what the buying cycle is like—a problem for this group. Sure, they had suspicions, they had spoken with members of their sales team, and even relied on published research from an industry think tank, but they still didn’t have anything concrete.

In this case, the best thing to do is to find a way to ask your clients.  While your own marketing department can call some clients and prospects to get insights, it’s often effective to engage an outsider, as many clients will open up more to a 3rd party.

I’ve had a number of these conversations recently on behalf of our clients. In addition to learning about the buying cycle and selection criteria, I have heard that our clients’ fees could actually be much higher than they currently are, and in one case, learned that there was a big opportunity about to open up.

We’re Not Turning This into Business

While we all like to help and educate people, most corporate content budgets are predicated on the idea that at some point it leads to business.  If your content marketing program isn’t generating any business, in most cases it’s only a matter of time before you can’t fund your content marketing program.

If you are suffering from the first 2 challenges we outlined above, then it’s not surprising that you can’t turn your blog posts into business.  However, even when you do iron out these issues, too often I see companies missing the basics.  If you take all that time to create a great blog post, and it addresses a key buyer, at the right time, at the right stage, in just the right way, you absolutely need to ask them to provide some basic contact information to access another, more extensive piece of content.

It’s critical to map out key anchor pieces of content (white papers, eBooks, recorded webinars, email newsletters, other content valuable enough for readers to provide their contact information) and match them to themes or topics of posts.  You can them use these anchor pieces as calls to action to take buyers to that next step.

So, if your buyers are reading about content marketing, you can suggest they can also learn more in a recent webinar, The Anatomy of a Content Marketing Strategy (hint, hint).  Or think about how Amazon does it on the Kindle: when you finish book 1 of a series, it automatically asks you if you’d like to buy the second book. By taking people to the next step with a clear call to action, you convert some of the anonymous readers into interested, named visitors, and can determine which readers are valid leads and ultimately which may turn into business.

If you start turning blog visitors into new clients, you’ll certainly feel like you are getting something out of blogging again.

What other tips do you have for solving these issues?  Are you getting anything back from your blogging efforts?  Tell us in the comments section below.

For more about Content Marketing, download our free content marketing webinar:  What if You Build It and They Still Don’t Come? – The Anatomy of a Content Marketing Strategy (See how I did that again!).

About the Author

As Right Source’s chief marketing technology officer, Will Davis oversees the intersection of marketing strategy, consulting, execution and technology for our clients. He focuses first on business objectives and then on helping clients leverage marketing and technology to deliver against those objectives. A recognized leader in content marketing, Will has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in government and politics and broad experience developing marketing strategies that help organizations reach milestones and grow. You can find Will on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn, or read his other posts.

  • Will, thank you for this post. I think you are right on when you say sometimes, it’s good to get back to basics of why you are ultimately blogging for your business. And yeah, a review of the analytics does help to identify some patterns in content but I agree that analytics only tell just part of the story.

    I think blogging as a key function of an organization’s e-communications initiatives is challenged today for many, many reasons. Some you cite in your post. Other reasons, such as the ones cited in a just-out study on blogging’s “decline” (http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesandresearch/2011inc500socialmediaupdate/), do raise many questions and add to the “why is our blogging not growing our business” puzzle.

    I can’t tell you how often I run into clients and businesses who are stumped or clueless about how to generate ongoing content for their blogs. The easiest thing for many is to focus all their energies on their Facebook pages, right?? At least, that’s what they say, anyways. Why blog or maintain a blog when you can slap something quickly on Facebook and be done with it?? Again, that’s out of their mouths and these are comments shared quite frequently with me, sad to say.

    The thing is that desire for a quick post on Facebook (or on any social network) “makes sense” in that a simple status update is nimble, quick and doesn’t require as much brain power as a general rule of thumb. A quick photo update or a link and a blurb and you’re done.

    With a blog, it’s much more involved and requires far more thought and energy AND collaboration as you detail above. For many, right off the bat, it just seems like too much doggone work. And I get that. We are all time challenged, etc. and not everyone can blog or write well. I think what we will find is that, as the Mass Univ study indicates, many companies will fold or re-purpose their blogs in favor or social status updating (which, should the study’s findings truly materialize over time, is a whole other subject!).

    Still, despite the conveniences and vast popularity of social communications, many organizations will continue to use the blog medium as a key part of their online communications. And for those that do, they will (continue to) face the challenges you share in your post but also find even more pressure than ever before to not just create content that generates business on an ongoing basis but to also develop content that (a) moves or impacts action, (b) informs, (c) motivates, (d) inspires social sharing, (e) entertains and (f) is relevant to the targeted readership.

    Wheeeew!!! 🙂 NOT an easy feat by no means …

    I could spend hours here listing all my specific thoughts on this subject LOL but I think I will just wrap here by saying that there are many, many implications here for businesses who blog to consider. There’s absolutely no better time than now to (re)address the value proposition, business focus and content purpose of any blogging effort.

    Good to stay connected with you after our panel time together in Leesburg … 🙂

  • In order to be successful a business blog needs to be a priority.  It’s not something that you can just “get around to”.  Hire a content team or outsource the work to a trusted writer.  The only way that a blog will be successful is if it is updated regularly.  

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