Today’s marketers understand that blogging is one of the most effective tools for generating website traffic which can be converted into new leads for their business—and nonprofits are no exception. Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 research states that 58 percent of nonprofit marketers used blogging as a content marketing tactic in 2014—up from 47 percent in 2013.
In addition to driving leads to your website, blog content can also help your nonprofit generate greater awareness for your cause, build thought leadership and trust, and expand your online community. If you’ve already made the decision to travel down the blogging path, here’s a list of best practices—in the form of do’s and don’ts—to help you get off to a good start and avoid some of the pitfalls.
1. DO take a strategic approach.
Blogging isn’t just about writing. Yes, it is a communication tool that allows you to share information with your online community, but each blog post presents its own opportunity to attract new leads to your website and increase your organic search rankings. Create a strategy that takes into consideration your audience personas, keywords, lead generation, content creation, promotion, and measurement.
2. DON'T ignore SEO opportunities.
Search engines and blogs can become the best of friends when formally introduced. As you develop an editorial calendar for your blog topics, include a section for the keywords your target audience is searching for online. Include those keywords in your post title, meta description, image alt text, and inbound links. This will help to increase your organic search rankings in the topic areas that are important to your audience.
3. DO tell your story.
Share stories about the work you’re doing in the community and about those impacted by your efforts. Use an authentic tone that builds an emotional connection with your community. Your blog posts should educate new prospects about your cause to inspire them to get involved, while also reinforcing your mission with your existing community members to engender loyalty.
4. DON'T forget the call-to-action.
The call-to-action is your secret weapon to converting visitors into leads. Once someone has taken the time to search for a topic, discover your blog post, and read it, you have an opportunity to drive that prospect to show support for your cause. Whether the ask is to donate, volunteer, pledge, or subscribe to your blog, your call-to-action must convey urgency to act now. Once the prospect leaves your page, a return visit is not guaranteed.
5. DO focus on your audience.
Consider applying the 80/20 content rule to your blog. This best practice states that 80 percent of content should focus on educating your audience, answering their questions, and solving their problems—while the other 20 percent of your content should be promotional in nature. It’s not always easy to strike this balance, and of course “rules” can be broken. But whether you apply an 80/20 rule or a 70/30 rule, or some other split that makes sense for your business, keep in mind that content marketing is about pulling in your prospects by serving their needs, not yours.
6. DON'T just wait for prospects to show up.
Great content won’t get discovered without promotion. Leverage all your channels to get your blog content in front of the right audience. Link to your blog on your social media platforms, distribute your blog post link to a segmented email list with an interest in the topic, include blog links in your e-newsletter, and always encourage blog subscriptions.
7. DO blog on a frequent and consistent basis.
Bottom line: The only way to keep your subscribers engaged is to blog on a frequent and consistent basis. Recent HubSpot statistics state that 82 percent of marketers who blog daily report positive ROI for overall inbound efforts. There’s no hard and fast rule regarding how often you should blog, but your lead goals should guide your frequency pattern. For example, if you have a set number of leads you’d like to acquire each month, determine how much blog-generated website traffic can yield the number of leads you want to capture.
8. DON'T expect immediate results.
Like other marketing tactics, blogging requires a long-term commitment. It takes time to build a robust content inventory and a substantial list of loyal subscribers. Each week you should track the number of subscribers, which posts are generating the most engagement, increases in organic search rankings, and the number of qualified leads acquired. If you create quality content, apply SEO, post often, focus on your audience’s needs, and actively promote your blog, you can expect to see measurable results within 4-6 months.
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