When you start a corporate blog, you create expectations among your target audiences. This also applies to the frequency of your blog posts, along with many other elements. If you have been blogging on a regular basis for a while and then dramatically lower frequency or even stop, it’s hard to create a valuable ongoing and progressive interaction with your target audiences and the communities shaping around your blog and content. Setting these expectations at the beginning is important.
Note that a corporate blog typically plays different roles in a content marketing and broader marketing context as you can read in our corporate blogging guide. Since you will typically work with some form of buyer and /or content marketing personas, readers will come and go, depending on how they find content that suits them in different stages of the buyer journey. However, as a blog often serves different goals, including building thought leadership, creating lasting connections and continuing conversations with specific audiences, among many other reasons corporate blogs are used, some “audiences” – or individuals – will stick around. Finally, you will always have ‘readers’ that didn’t originally belong to your ‘target audiences’ or buyer personas as the Web is a public place but there is absolutely no reason to not cherish those readers, on the contrary.
Blogging frequency and the community dimension
So, while some people will check out your blog posts for just a while and others will visit your blog maybe once because they found a post via a search engine or a tweet, others will stay around and be part of a community that organically takes shape and can be identified, nurtured and grown. There is a strong link between blogging, content and the organic growth of communities. Your loyal audiences and readers will show their appreciation in many ways, most often than not silently or by taking an action such as subscribing to the blog’s RSS feed or newsletter.
Some will even never show any form of appreciation and that’s OK. They might not follow you on Twitter, subscribe to your newsletter or RSS feed, comment, share your blog post or do anything whatsoever. But you might be in their personal list of blogs they visit every day.
In other words: you have different audiences with different expectations and behavior. It’s important to realize that, identify and set these expectations (it’s not a one-way street) and deliver upon those expectations. And that goes for the blogging frequency too.
Even if usually the corporate blog is put at the beginning of the proverbial sales cycle (“attract”) as in the latest HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing Report, it can certainly also be used for customer advocacy, retention and loyalty purposes, and much more. Just look at how Dell (Dell TechCenter) has a community platform that basically offers blog posts about how to use Dell products and the products as such.
Tactics, channels and media in the sales cycle – source HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing 2013
The link between blogging frequency and business outcomes
There is no such thing as a general blogging frequency rule. The example of Dell shows it and it’s obvious: each business is different and everything depends on goals, resources, audiences, personas and so many more contextual elements. However, below are some general rules of thumb.
First of all, note there is a direct link between the frequency of your blog and the number of acquired customers as HubSpot found year after year. So, undervaluing your blog frequency and that of other content channels is leaving business on the table. Knowing that blogging improves – inbound – marketing ROI (79% of marketers, participating in the HubSpot survey and having a blog report inbound ROI, as opposed to only 20% of businesses without a blog) and that the cost per lead via blogging is low, it’s clear that blogging frequency matters.
However, that’s not the only reason. It’s normal there is a link between blogging frequency and customer acquisition. The more you blog, the more visitors you have, it’s that simple. The question is 1) if you have the right visitors for your business goals, 2) offer what they seek and provide valuable content and 3) effectively do something with those visitors. Furthermore, and especially now that Google continues changing the way people find information, blogging (and frequency of blogs) has an influence on SEO and social interaction. SEO and social media leads convert at above-average rates, HubSpot found. And both social and search engines love frequency. Finally, SEO, social, blogging and other tactics really are one in an integrated reality.
This isn’t a case to publish as many blog posts as you can, on the contrary. Remember those expectations but also the resources you have, the cost of opportunity and the needs of your core target audiences. Quality trumps quantity and quality equals relevance in the eye of the target audience. But that doesn’t mean you should NOT take quantity and frequency into account either. It’s never black or white.
Blog post frequency and customer acquisition – via MarketingCharts
If multiple authors collaborate on a business blog, frequent updates per day generally work well. Your own frequency depends on your goals and how strong you want your community, acquisition and relationship-building efforts to be.
Define your own frequency (talk about it) and be realistic. You need time to look up some information and get the inspiration flowing by maintaining a healthy rhythm that doesn’t suffocate you. Creativity and ideas need space to grow and time is space. It’s best to start with a lower frequency and gradually blog more than the other way around as expectations and realism really matter.
If you’re using frequency as a tactic to make up for the fact that you’re being ignored, you can certainly do better. (Seth Godin)
Some rules of thumb regarding blogging frequency
After this exhaustive exploration of the topic, time for some rules of thumb and tips. Note: we are not ‘targeting’ professional bloggers with this post but corporate bloggers and blog teams.
- Make sure you cover the different target audiences/buyer personas and their questions across their buyer journey, mainly in the stages where your blog plays a crucial role. Start by answering the questions and plan blog posts further answering those questions through storytelling, more specific blog posts, etc. Define a planning using an editorial calendar.
- There is nothing wrong with repetition but don’t repeat for repetition’s sake. Before a message gets across, it needs to be repeated but stay away from annoyance. Make your blog posts better first. Find a better angle. As Seth Godin says: “If you’re using frequency as a tactic to make up for the fact that you’re being ignored, you can certainly do better. “
- Don’t forget that a blog also has pages and the possibility to use custom post types so try experimenting with specific types of content and information on your blog that are interesting for your target audiences, apart from the main blog post feeds and pre-defined frequency.
- Start measuring as soon as you start. Find the correlation between topics, frequency and business outcomes. Establish a baseline and tune the frequency up to see the effects. Again: don’t put more information out because what you do is not good and take into account expectations of your readers and available resources. Do the math!
- Take into account the number of people you have – internally and externally – to blog. Streamline processes and work with calendars but also leave room for collaborators who might have content without being bloggers. Balance between time dedicated to blogging (and measured outcomes) and other tasks. Make sure your ‘internal’ bloggers don’t overpromise in their initial enthusiasm.
- Be consistent and stick to a rhythm. Drive up the frequency depending on evolutions in your business ecosystem, the market, the topics readers care about, etc. Again: it’s better to under promise and over deliver but keep delivering. There are always new angles, great stories and lots of information to share.
- It’s a two-way street. Don’t only talk with your target audiences to understand what they want and how often they want it but also measure. And, most of all, realize it’s not a one-way street. It is perfectly possible to finetune the frequency of blogging and content creation, depending on engagement, interaction and social signals. Look at what your ‘audiences’ are saying and asking. Write blog posts to cover discussions that are happening in your LinkedIn Groups or any other social property. Instead of sharing content over social, try using social to create content and REALLY engage communities.
- Avoid fatigue. Too much is too much and how can you avoid too much? By mapping the content needs, talking with your target audiences from the very beginning, analyzing what content your target audiences like/need, understanding the content and information patterns of your buyer personas, etc. Fatigue will show in decreasing growth or even negative growth in some key engagement metrics.
- Understand the effect and importance of blogging for your individual business and context. There is a difference between the blog of a local bakery and that of a multinational B2B IT services corporation with a wide range of solutions encompassing various topics, concerns, evolutions, etc. (which doesn’t mean a local bakery can’t achieve great things with a “higher-frequency” blog).
- Think about SEO and social too. It’s all about goals and audiences. But it’s also about how content travels. You know how social media is a lot about the ripple effect when it boils down to content? Well, frequency is about ripples too and SEO increasingly as well.
- Test, test and test. As long as it works, it works. It’s that simple.
Just do it. And be relevant.
This article originally appeared on Content Marketing Experience and has been republished with permission.