I don’t remember when I first heard the word blog or blogging, however, I do remember back then it was a ‘weblog’ before it was truncated to blog and I remember it was something that people did in their spare time and was something of questionable value.
Bloggers were at best non-professionals writers with certain interests who could offer some additional insight and at worst narcissists who felt their stream of conscious offered something to the world. Think of personal blogs, professional blogs and political blogs to name but a few different types of blogs.
Before you know it, everyone wants to be a blogger and every business wants to have a business blog. But many marketers and many business owners didn’t know quite what they wanted to say on their blog or what they wanted it to do.
Fast forward a few years and I was ankle deep in communications and marketing and I started to understand the value of press releases online and very quickly started to see the benefit of adding content to a website on a blog, especially for SEO.
Back in the good old days of blogging, I could add a blog to a website and it would have an immediate impact, getting great rankings and traffic. If I added some links to the money page, as long as the blog was well optimised and ranked highly, it would tend to increase the ranking of the money page for the keyword being targeted.
Back then, not a lot of businesses blogged, so adding content on a certain subject that was well optimised would be enough to rank well. Also, it was often the case that I could find subjects on which other people hadn’t blogged. But times of changed.
I’m not going to go over the history of blogging any further or give you a guide into blogging. If you want that there are plenty of resources available on GrowTraffic or you could view this blogging guide.
The thing is, blogging isn’t going to be enough for your business. Sure it’s going to do something for you and if you do nothing else you should add some blogs to your site, but it’s still not going to be enough. The thing about blogging is in order for it to be useful, it needs to have a strategic element that means it’s well aligned to your businesses objectives, your marketing strategy and your customer buying cycle. When you face blogging from the perspective of strategic marketing, you’re well on your way to a content marketing approach.
You’ve got to ask yourself what your business needs. I would always argue you should work with a content marketer, however, I can see the advantages of choosing a blogger to begin with. Often bloggers will work on an ad hoc basis, delivering the content that you want them to or by creating content that they think will benefit your business. I’ve seen this has been successful, up to a point, for many businesses. But then there’s diminishing returns and that’s when a strategic approach to content creation and promotion is required and that’s when a content marketer is required.
When you’re speaking to a marketer or a copywriter, whether they call themselves a content marketer or a blogger or a writer, you’ve got to work out whether they approach content creation and blogging from a content marketing perspective. Here are some things you should be looking out for.
They should be asking questions about your audience. Once they’ve got an understanding from you about their audience then they’re going to want to go away and do some more research about your audience. They might even produce one or more buyer personas based on the research they’ve carried out. Buyer personas are a fictionalised representation of your ideal customer and it will provide insight into what should be included in the content and the tone of voice of the content.
The thing about content marketing vs blogging is that content marketing is specifically orientated towards generating leads or sales, whereas blogging is less strategic and often opinionated and sometimes whimsical in nature. It’s estimated that articles generated through a content marketing approach will generate around 3 times the amount of leads a blog article would do.
But it’s important to say this isn’t about selling directly to a customer. Buyers have a natural distrust of a brand when they feel that brand is selling to them. So when content marketing rather than selling directly to your potential customer you want to create content that will inform and inspire them, whilst communicating just enough about your business, products and services that you increase the likelihood that they’ll choose you when they are ready to buy.
And a content marketing consultant won’t just speak about creating blogs. Sure, those blog articles will probably be a core element of their approach, however, the should be looking at creating lots of different kinds of content including:
And whereas a blogger will just be speaking to you about creating content and adding it to your website’s blog, a content marketer will also be looking at the distribution strategy to try to come up with ways to increase the amount of people who will actually see the content they create. This can be achieved through different tactics including:
- Organic social media marketing
- Paid social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Inbound organic search marketing
- Paid search marketing
- Press releases
Another key point about the way a content marketer works is that they should be creating content based on the buying cycle. And it’s important to understand how much content you need to create in the different phases. Most bloggers will find it easy to create content in the awareness phase of the buying cycle, however, the strategic approach a content marketer will take will facilitate the creation of targeted content in the other phases such as evaluation, which are always more difficult to come up with.
My advice is always to focus on creating evergreen/comounding content that will over time help your website to soak up lots of the questions people are asking in Google. But that doesn’t mean to say those other types of content, such as click bait content and seasonal content, should be dicounted. Evergreen content should always be the foundation.
Hopefully you’ve got a good feel for the difference between blogging and content marketing. Ultimately, blogging is a tactic that’s used in content marketing.
If you are still trying to decide whether you need a blogger or a content marketer then you need to look at your own business, the skills you have within the business and your existing marketing strategy. If you’ve already got a fully formed content marketing plan that you’re confident about then you might well only need a blogger at this point. If you’re not confident about your content strategy or if you’ve just planned to ‘do some blogging’ then you really should think about talking to a content marketing consultant.
Here at GrowTraffic content marketing is baked into everything we do. Largely we use a content marketing approach to benefit SEO. By choosing a content marketing approach for SEO we are able to create and distribute content and then organically generate links back to the website. However, we don’t just create content for SEO, this is content that has to stand on it’s own two feet. It has to be able to be shareable on social, capable of grabbing someone’s interest in an email and whilst a visitor is browsing a website.