Let’s admit it.
Blogging is hard work.
And we all wonder sometimes whether it’s worth all the effort.
Can you really create a business blog that generates an endless stream of leads and customers? Can you write a business blog so good that readers desperately want to work with you and buy from you?
Getting your blog readers to fall head-over-heels in love with your company, may sound like a daunting, perhaps impossible, task. But it really doesn’t need to be. You just need to observe a few simple rules.
Follow these 6 rules and you may find yourself winning more business than you can deal with.
Rule 1: Stop spreading sales messages
Are you writing your blog for your company or for your readers?
Your objective of blogging may be to generate leads, to increase web traffic, or to raise your profile as an authority. But if you use your blog just to spread your sales messages, you may struggle to find readers. You might not win the clients you’re looking for. And your blog may remain a lonely voice whispering quietly while no one pays attention.
Most people aren’t interested in your sales messages. Most people aren’t even interested in your business. They want to know what’s in it for them.
To gain business with your blog you should stop thinking like a salesman and start acting like your reader’s mentor. A salesman wonders how to get his next sale. A mentor cares about his students. He wants to help them get ahead and live a more fulfilled life.
By providing solid advice on a regular basis, you build authority and trust; and that’s how you win new customers. To start wooing customers with your blog, answer these two critical questions:
- Who are you writing for? Try to be specific. When you can visualize an ideal reader or buyer persona, your writing becomes more vivid, more personal, and more engaging.
- How can you help your readers? Consider what your ideal reader is dreaming of, and how you can help him achieve his goals.
Don’t you enjoy reading the KISSmetrics blog exactly because it’s so helpful and virtually free from sales messages? In his book Contagious, Jonah Berger describes practicality as one of the triggers for content to go viral.
When you write your next blog post, forget about your company for a moment and consider how you can help your readers. When you stop pitching on your blog, you start selling more.
Suggested caption: The Shopify Blog serves helpful tips for anyone running an e-commerce website
Rule 2: Get rid of a corporate tone
Nobody chats with a robot. Nobody bonds with a call center menu. Nobody gossips with a corporation.
To engage your readers, make your writing more conversational. Have you noticed how I’ve sprinkled questions throughout this blog post? And how these questions address you as a reader directly because I’m using the word you?
That’s how I try to engage you. A blog post shouldn’t be a monologue but a conversation; and questions are the most important tool of good conversationalists.
You might think that writing conversational content requires you to record yourself talking and then typing out your text. But have you ever seen a full transcript of an interview?
It’s full of wishy-washy words, grammar mistakes, and sentences that haven’t been finished. Writing conversational content doesn’t mean you write as you talk. Instead: you edit your text so that it doesn’t sound like writing.
This is how you get rid of a dull corporate tone:
- Scrap gobbledygook like cutting-edge, world-class, and customer service excellence. You don’t really use those words when you talk, do you?
- Slaughter the passive voice. Rather than write Your email will be answered (passive), write: We’ll answer your email within 24 hours (active).
- Kill long paragraphs and dense blocks of text. To enter a conversation you need to give your reader time to breathe – that’s what white space is for.
- Use contractions like they’ll, he’s, and we’re, because they’re more informal.
Conversational content makes your reader feel you’re talking WITH him—NOT talking AT him. You’re engaging him in your conversation, and encourage him to leave a comment, send you an email, or buy from you.
The Unbounce blog has a conversational tone
Rule 3: Compose deliciously seductive headlines
Do your blog posts receive the attention they deserve?
Are your headlines so delicious, so tempting that people feel compelled to click through and read your posts?
A lipsmackingly good headline fulfils two crucial requirements:
- Attract attention by using sensory or emotional words. Numbers also work well in headlines because they stop wandering eyes in social media streams.
- Make a reader curious enough to click through by promising a specific benefit when reading the post.
The specific benefit I promised you in this post’s headline, is that you learn how to write blog posts that help you win customers. To make the headline more compelling I added a number (7 tips) and the emotional words to enchant and to woo.
Seductive headlines help you gain more readers and more customers. Spend time practicing your headlines and study the headlines of popular blogs.
Rule 4: Create enticing opening paragraphs
We live in a distracted world.
Each piece of content is battling for reader attention. Emails pop up. Twitter streams and Facebook updates distract your readers. You need to work hard to grab attention and keep it.
To captivate your reader and entice him to read your post, you need to write a seductive opening paragraph. Follow this simple 3-step formula:
- Empathize with your reader and tell him he’s not the only one struggling with a specific problem.
- Promise your reader your advice will make his life better.
- Reassure your reader that your tips are easy—everyone loves shortcuts, simple tricks, and straightforward formulas.
In the opening paragraph of this post I empathized with your doubts about blogging, and then promised you that your blog can generate an endless stream of leads and customers just by following these six simple rules.
Rule 5: Write inspirational conclusions
A blog post isn’t an academic essay in which you sum up the findings of your research. Your final paragraph provides you with an opportunity to inspire your reader so she can take away your advice, remember it, and act on it.
When you reward your reader with an incredibly useful tip each time she reads your blog posts, she’ll come back again and again for more tips. But serving up a useful tip isn’t enough. You have to inspire your reader to act.
How? Consider the issues that sabotage your reader’s good intentions. What blocks her from acting upon your advice? If your reader feels overwhelmed, remind her of the first step she should take. If she lacks confidence, give her a pep-talk. If she feels it’s too much work to implement your advice, then remind her how much better she’ll feel after implementing your suggestions.
A useful tip that’s not implemented is like a riveting book that’s never been opened. Your job as blogger is not just to share useful advice, but to encourage your reader to act. Don’t let your blog posts fizzle out.
Rule 6: Create an email list
A blog without an email list is like city without any transport links. People might fly in or turn up by accident, but they’ll find it difficult to find their way back after a first visit.
Email allows you to build a connection with readers and coax them back to your blog to read more. When you turn up once a week in a reader’s inbox, he can get to know you, like you, and trust you. That’s how you earn an opportunity to sell.
To boost your email list:
- Tell readers the benefit of signing up. What will they learn? How will you help them save or make money? Or help them become happier or more productive?
- Consider a relevant bonus like an ebook, video, or free e-course.
- Place your sign-up form in strategic locations, like at the bottom of a blog posts, in your side bar, on your home page, and on your about page.
Consider it an honor when people allow you into their inbox. Build a relationship with them over time, and you’ll earn the opportunity to sell to them.
The Daily Egg promises a great bonus when you sign up to their list
The truth about your business blog …
Let’s be honest.
Writing a business blog is hard work. Damn hard work.
You need to know your stuff. You need to polish your writing skills. And most of all, you need to sneak into the heads of your readers and potential clients.
But magic will happen when you truly care about your readers.
Understand what they’re trying to achieve. Know what they’re struggling with. Understand exactly how your advice can help them.
Persevere and your traffic will multiply over time. Your social shares and comments will skyrocket. Other bloggers will start linking to your content.
And most importantly, an endless stream of quality leads will flow to you.
About the Author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent marketer and copywriter on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring business blogs charming. Her new book Blog to Win Business: How to Enchant Readers and Woo Customers is out today. Download your free copy exclusively from Amazon until 3 March 2014.