5 Little Known Causes of Business Blog Failure

[stag_intro]No body likes to invest money in a marketing initiative that makes them no money. I sure don’t and I bet neither do you. Yet everyday businesses like yours and mine launch blogs in the hope of tapping into the river of leads and money that everyone is telling us is out there. [/stag_intro]

So Why would you start a blog for your business?

“Blog now” we’ve been told. “It will bring you more traffic, more leads, more conversions.”

Every marketing magazine, blog, podcast and ebook says exactly the same thing.

If blogging is so good for our business then why do so many business blogs wither and die within the first three months of launching?

It is frustrating and puts the fear of god into most marketers and business owners who are responsible for spending their hard fought marketing budget on content marketing initiatives.

No one wants to face the CEO and explain why the content marketing and blogging campaign has failed to generated the traffic, leads and sales that were promised in the pitch.

Look, I’ve been there and it sucks.

But worse than the fear of getting hammered for wasting money is the sick feeling in your stomach because you don’t understand why the blog failed at all.

“Didn’t we cover off all of the bases in our planning phase?”

“Didn’t we recruit great writers?”

“Didn’t we have an editorial calendar worked out?”

There are a million questions in the post mortem of a failed blog…but few answers.

Five Causes of Business Blog Failure – My Insight

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this because I used to be the agency guy telling clients “You need to get into blogging now”.

And now I’m a startup business owner in the same position.

In my previous role working with some of Australia’s leading enterprises I had an insiders view into a number of content marketing initiatives; some of which succeeded wildly and others, seemingly with the same amount of planning and effort simply fizzled away.

I’m going to share with you the 5 factors that I discovered that you absolutely need to know if you want to launch a blog for your business that helps your business achieve it’s goals.

#1 Business Blogging is a marathon not a sprint – Most people are sprinting.

I hate to rely on a cliche but it’s true.

Most people who are in the middle of business blogging initiatives are implementing a campaign pitched by their digital agency, signed off by the CEO and dumped into the lap of the marketing manager who has a million things on their plate.

Most of the time when you are in this situation you are focusing on getting the project implemented and completed ASAP.

So you and the agency do stuff like:

  • Keyword research
  • Demographic analysis
  • Market analysis
  • Topic analysis
  • Competitor Analysis

And the output of all of this analysis is the delivery of the “Blogging Strategy and Implementation Plan”.

What typically happens is that once you (and I mean YOU as in the person responsible for delivering the corporate Blogging campaign) complete your deliverables, you move onto the next thing on your to do list.

The next thing becomes the most important thing and the people who you’ve handed the responsibility to maintain the blog no longer feel the same pressure or commitment to keep blogging at the same pace and quality.

Blog posts get rushed out the door just to meet the monthly publishing quota and keep the boss happy.

And most times they are happy.

“See we’re blogging! Check out our blog”

However without executive level ownership driving the corporate blogging campaign in accordance with a well thought out plan, the focus becomes on the activity, rather than the right activity.

And the net result is a business blog with dull lifeless blog posts and content that has very little impact on the business.

Key takeaways

  • Successful business blogging is an ongoing systematic process that requires long term commitment to quality content creation within a strategy designed to benefit the business in some way.
  • It needs to become embedded in daily business processes. It needs to have executive level ownership and involvement and it needs to be seen as a long term initiative, not just another short term marketing campaign.

#2 No one can really explain why they are blogging and how a blog post can actually make your business more money.

This is a very real problem.

We are living in a time where there has been and continues to be a massive change in the online space.

Budgets allocated to content marketing are ramping up massively as is the expectation on content marketers to perform.

In this context, being able to explain in detail the mechanism of how a blog post gets found in Google and to follow through with an explanation of how a blog post turns a visitor into an inquiring prospect or customer is really important.

Most people can only give you some vague explanation about why “google loves content” and it “gets you found” in search.

If you only have a superficial understanding of the mechanics of how blogging and content marketing can benefit a business, you will never be blogging and creating content that is optimised to achieve a specific goal.

To give you some idea of what I mean ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Do you have an idea of the journey your customer goes on between when they first decide they need a solution to their problem and they ultimately buy your product?
  2. Do you understand the types of content they use to research the problem, find solutions, check out alternatives and solicit third party insights?
  3. Do you know whether your business has content to answer the prospects questions along this journey to becoming a customer?
  4. Do you know how to optimise a blog post so it can get found in google?
  5. Do you know how to “target a keyword with a blog post”
  6. Do you know how to help a blog post along so it gets found faster?
  7. Do you have lead capture mechanisms in place to capture that traffic and turn it into a lead.

These are just some of the things that you really need to have a handle on to have any chance of having a business blog that pays its way.

Key Takeaways

  • You need to understand the mechanics of how a blog post gets created and how it functions as a mechanism for bringing in new leads to the business.  From “what question is it answering” to the keyword it is targeting, to how to optimise it for discovery and how to actually get the thing written.
  • Understand that even you get the traffic you need to have a way to capture that traffic and convert it to a lead.
  • If you have an agency on the books, get them to explain to you exactly how the blogging initiative they are selling you is going to benefit your business.  If you don’t know, you run the risk of just doing things for the sake of doing them.
  • Remember  activity does not equal results.
  • Also If you understand how “what you are doing” is benefitting you, there is probably going to be more commitment from you and the team to getting it done.

#3 People don’t know what to write about

It’s the most regular complaint of marketing managers when they are dumped with the corporate blogging initiative.

But we sell Industrial Electrical Distribution boards, What the bloody hell am I supposed to write about?

In these situations the first few blog posts talk about the types of distribution boards they sell, how awesome they are, what they are used for…and then nothing.

At the core of content marketing (and Blogging) is an understanding that your prospect is on a journey of discovery, entertainment, education, validation (of you) and sometimes of purchase.

So write content that appeals to them at these various points in their journey to purchase, knowing that you are slowly but inexorably moving them along the journey to purchase.

There are so many content frameworks and blog posts with ideas about blogging that this really shouldn’t be the problem that it is.

Key Takeaway:

A couple of things to remember when writing blog content:

  • You do not need to be selling every time you write a blog post.
  • What you write about is bigger than just “what you sell” You might sell electrical distribution boards but you might operate within the commercial building and development space. I bet there are a ton of topics they would be interested in reading about.
  • Remember to use the multiple modalities available to you. Blog posts can include text, video, audio, images. Use them to their fullest potential.

#4 Content is created that is not Optimised

The content that gets created and published on a business blog must perform many roles.

However to perform these roles effectively it needs to be “optimised” correctly.

Many businesses make the mistake of creating content and generating output without making sure that the content has the ability to perform well in it’s roles.

What do I mean? Lets consider it from the perspective of the roles it is designed to do.

Perform well in Organic Search

Blog posts get created without keyword research, optimised page titles and meta descriptions.

Get shared on Social Networks

Blog posts get created that are not “share worthy”, they do not have impactful images that encourage sharing and do not have a compelling benefit that makes them worth sharing.

Get read on mobile devices

Surprisingly, content gets created that is not optimised to perform on mobile devices. From the size of the images, the way the copy is structured and the responsiveness of the site on which they are published.

Optimised for Conversion

Blog posts get created with little consideration to what makes an awesome blog post that converts a reader into a subscriber or customer.

No snappy headline, not easy to read, no impactful visuals.

Key Takeaway:

Every blog post you create needs to go through a creative process that spits out a piece of content that has the best chance of:

  • Getting found (in search)
  • Getting read (on mobile or web)
  • Getting shared (in social networks)
  • Getting an action (the right conversion action)

You need to know how to do this otherwise your content creation efforts are wasted.

#5 Content is created that is never Promoted

There is so much quality content being created today that to have any chance of getting the benefits that content marketing and blogging promises you need to give it the best chance possible by ensuring it is promoted.

I’ve seen content that gets created and published but never sees the light of day because it never gets promoted to an audience that might be interested in reading it, sharing it or linking to it.

I’ve made that mistake myself many times. As an SEO guy I used to think “Google will figure it out” and send me the traffic I deserve.

The reality is that if you simply publish your posts and do nothing, they will struggle to do as well as they could with a little promotion.

And today promotion means Social Media and outreach.

Social media has given businesses an amazing opportunity to “earn attention” by providing value.

If you have built a social audience by providing value, by educating, informing and educating, when it comes time to get attention for your own content, it is much easier to do.

Key takeaway:

  1. Build a social media audience on the platform where your broader audience exists. Provide value to that audience by educating, entertaining and informing.
  2. When you create content on your blog, share it to your social media audience and ask for their opinions. As them to share your content to their networks.
  3. In your content, link to and reference other influencers who have content that adds value to your audience. Then when you publish reach out to them and let them know they were referenced and ask them for their input and sharing.
  4. Consider using paid social media such as Facebook ads to increase the reach and exposure of your content.
  5. Create something evergreen that provides value for the long term and promote it to those people who would benefit from it.
  6. Where possible chase down PR opportunities for your blog and content that will get it shared and promoted widely. In the online space traditional marketing is morphing into a form of content promotion activity.

In Summary

Business blogging as the easiest content marketing initiative has so much upside for your business.

You just need to approach it with the five factors above in mind so that you don’t simply waste your time and money and to ensure you get the business benefit you are chasing.