written by
Brik De Maeyer

How to Create an Effective Blog Content Strategy in 7 Steps

Content Marketing 15 min read
Blogging is a must for your content strategy
© Mathias De Wilde | storychief.io

Your blog content strategy should be a key pillar in your overall approach to content marketing. Afterall, search dominates online traffic, and blogging is one of the best ways to get more search rankings.

There are so many types of content that it’s overwhelming to know what to create. Because blogging is so profitable, it remains the most important content format for many organizations, particularly B2B companies looking to lower their advertising spend.

Here’s what you’ll find in this guide to blog content strategy:

How to develop a blog content strategy

To create a blog content strategy, you need to start with a deep understanding of your target audience and your own business goals: how your customers buy from you and what they are looking for. This will drive your SEO strategy and how you prioritize what needs to get written first.

Step 1. Understand the customer buying journey

In sales-led organizations, where brand awareness and the sales team drives most of the revenue growth, the customer lifecycle is quite long and typically follows these 8 stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Research
  3. Consideration
  4. Selection
  5. Buying
  6. Satisfaction
  7. Retention and Loyalty
  8. Advocacy
Customer lifecycle vector illustration. Outlined management analysis graph. Multiple client related metrics on controlled time period. Symbolic sale marketing consumer behavior research system model.
Also see: Content marketing funnel

But in product-led organizations, the goal is to get as many free trial sign-ups as possible, and convert those users into customers (without effort from sales for the majority of the product-qualified leads). So for those types of orgs, there might be some enterprise customers that go through the above cycle, and then small businesses who progress much faster.

Regardless of how your business drives revenue, you need to create content for every stage of your ideal customers’ unique journey.

Step 2. Do your keyphrase research

With a deeper understanding of the customer journey, you can now do keyphrase research.

The majority of your new blog content should be for the Awareness, Research, Consideration, and Selection stages. The other 4 stages might account for 10 - 15% of your blogging strategy.

You can use SEO tools like StoryChief, Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, and Mangools to find keyphrases that you want to target, based on their search volume and difficulty scores.

Make sure to write blogs that target both competitive and non-competitive keyphrases across all of your buying cycle stages.

Competitor research is a smart way to drive SEO research too. Just pop your competitors’ URLs into your SEO tool to find out what they’re ranking for, and add the relevant terms to your spreadsheet of target keyphrases.

You’ll then use the keyphrases to come up with great blog headlines. For example the keyphrase “content marketing plan” could turn into the headlineHow to Develop a Content Marketing Plan That Delivers Leads.

Step 3. Set a posting schedule

If you don’t have a content calendar or editorial calendar yet that does it for you, you’ll need to set a blogging schedule based on your available resources. Set goals for how many blogs you’ll post per week or per month.

Keep in mind that some keyphrases are best targeted with long form blog posts, so you could set a word count goal too.

For example, if your goal is 10,000 words per month, then you could have three 3500-word posts in one month, and then five 2000-word posts the next month.

By setting a goal for your content team, you’ll really commit to blogging, instead of just waiting for enough time to magically appear.

Step 4. Choose your content operations software

Blogging without content operations software is a nightmare. Without the right platform, it takes a long time to publish quality blog posts. You have to brief the writers, keep up with a content calendar, keep track of their progress, review their blog posts, and then manually enter and publish them — all using a dozen different tools.

A content operations platform, on the other hand brings all of these tasks and collaborators in one place.

And when content is ready, you can publish and distribute across a variety of channels with a single click.

Step 5. Iron out your monthly blogging process

Once you’ve chosen a content marketing platform, it’ll be a lot easier to determine your blogging process. But still, you need to onboard your team and show them how to use the software.

Here’s an example blogging process:

  1. Content manager briefs freelancer writer in StoryChief
  2. Writer completes the blog in StoryChief, does keyword research using the SEO and readability optimizer and submits it to the manager for approval
  3. Content manager reviews and approves story, schedules for publication to CMS, and schedules corresponding social media posts

Of course, without a content ops platform, your process will be a lot more complicated. That’s why it makes sense to decide what software you will use to collaborate with bloggers before you write out your process.

Step 6. Promote your blogs based on their type and priority

Your blog content strategy should also include promotion. You shouldn’t promote all blog posts in the same way.

Make sure that you create your own blog promotion plans as part of your overall strategy.

Here’s an example of different types of blogs and how to promote them.

  • SEO mega guides - Since the focus is SEO, the first step would be to prioritize keyword research, link building to build authority for search engines, and also post them to social media using an evergreen posting strategy (posting every month or every other month with an editorial calendar, for example).
  • Customer stories - You might email them to your list of potential customers, encourage sales reps to share them on social media, and even run paid social ads to them.
  • Expert roundups - You’ll want to share these on all your social media channels and tag everyone who participated. You might also create micro content (like infographics or short videos) with the tips to repurpose on social media directly.

Consider your content formats and categories and create a promotion plan for each.

Step 7. Have a plan in place for conversion rate optimization

Because blogging focuses so much on SEO, it’s easy to let conversion rate optimization (CRO) slide. But make sure you have a member of your team who is paying attention to conversions.

This marketer should track blog posts and campaigns for some or all of these:

  • Email subscriptions
  • New trial sign ups
  • Lead magnet downloads
  • Demo requests
  • Closed deals

Continually improve the conversion rate of your blog posts by adjusting your side bar, changing your CTA graphics, or adding more enticing lead magnets.

15 reasons your content strategy must include blogging

Not fully convinced of blogging’s importance? These 15 reasons will show you exactly why you shouldn’t delay your strategy or implementation planning.

1. You'll generate 3x more leads via blogs than through ads

If you have an effective content marketing strategy, then the results you get from blogging will far surpass any short-term traffic from temporary search ads.

Blogging generates 3 times more leads than paid search
(Source: Hubspot case study)

Yes. You'll generate THREE TIMES more leads via blogs than through ads.

So why break the bank when you can bang on your keyboard and flex those brain cells on the path to content creation?!

2. Blogging drives traffic to your website and is perfect for SEO.

Blogging helps you drive traffic to your website from social media and from SEO. Blogs give people a reason to return to your website over and over again.

We've got a Content Writing Checklist to help you optimize your blog content in every way possible.

3. Blogging provides 4x the likelihood of being found in organic search

You can't afford not to have a quality blog for your business. Companies that blog are 4x more likely to be found high in organic search results.

Plus, companies that blog have 97% more inbound links. More inbound links means a greater domain authority, which means all of your upcoming content has a higher chance of ranking via search too. Woo hoo!

4. 52% of marketers agree that blogging is the most critical marketing tactic

In a recent content marketing survey of 2,562 content marketers worldwide, 52% of marketers defined blogging as their most critical marketing tactic.

Interestingly, only 40% of content marketers determined that email marketing and social media were critical. What about video? It was voted as "critical" by just 30% of content marketers. So go ahead and buy into the video hype if you want, but don't ditch blogging.

Blogging is the most critical content marketing tactic for 2018
(Source: Content Marketing Institute case study)

Given the fact that there are 105 documented "content marketing tactics" to begin with, blogging coming in at #1 is a true testament to the power of the blog!

5. Blogging magnifies your brand

If you've got your finger on the pulse of industry trends and your clients' needs, then you already know that your company blog is the perfect platform to remain true to your brand.

In our recent content marketing teardown, we talked all about how Drift's content is as perfectly branded as their product. While blogging can help you acquire organic traffic with a variety of reader intents and awareness levels, it can also serve to solidify your brand on every channel where you share content.

6. Blog posts help build a long-lasting content machine

There's a reason why blogs like Hubspot's gets over a million visits through organic search engine results alone.

They've invested in their blogging and powered their way through to an SEO-driven content library, and now their blogs are working for them while they sleep.

Yes, you do need to prevent your organic search results from decaying overtime, but when you compare blogs with almost every other marketing strategy, they really do stand the test of time.

In order to keep your content fresh in the eyes of your readers and Google, you should:

  • Use Google Analytics and/or Revive to find posts that are losing rankings and search traffic
  • Update these posts with new images (including alt tags), add 100 - 500 words, and edit or remove any parts that are no longer accurate or up to date.

7. Your blogs are an opportunity for transparency

Among other things, Buffer is known for their transparency and willingness to share best practices. There's no better way to show your company's core values than through honest two-way communication, which blogging affords you from the get-go.

If you're a startup, then get on the path to sharing and starting those conversations early on.

Standuply is a prime example of how humble beginnings and failures along the way.

The Standuply Team sincerely apologizing for bugs and other mishaps in 2017

Mistakes happen, and can help build a community. Just ask Gleb Dvoryatkin, Artem Borodin, and Alex Kistenev (photo: left to right).

Authenticity matters. It matters to prospects and it matters to your existing client base.

8. Blogging showcases your WHY

Every brand has a "why" for existing. Why do you offer the product or service that you do? What do you hope to bring to the market? Why do you care? Who is your buyer persona? These values should be a part of your brand, and they should be infused in your website, but your blog is a good content strategy and gives you an opportunity to take it one step further.

Blogging can be a great way to showcase your passion for the problem you solve.

You can do this best with:

  • Employee or customer thought leadership
  • Customer interviews or spotlights
  • CEO thought leadership
  • Manifestos or more revolutionary / call-to-arms style posts

9. Google likes blogging as a content marketing strategy

It's true.

Google decided years ago that longer blogging posts should rank more favorably because of the opportunities for relevant backlinks in evergreen content (serving as your blog's cornerstones).

The reader would have to, in turn, stay on said page longer in order to read the in-depth content, therefore establishing credibility for the site.

It's no wonder that bloggers are increasingly opting for long-form content.

Bloggers report
Source: orbitmedia.com | 2017

10. Short-form content still works well in many industries

Yes long posts are great for SEO, but in many niches, short-form can still work, so don't feel downtrodden if you're not verbose.

Blogs of 500 words or less are still quite effective too. They can be easier to read, and are more standard in certain industries. Especially in B2C company blogs, or with blogs that feature a lot of images, you don't have to write long posts.

And FYI, StoryChief stays on top of Google algorithms and recommendations for you so you don't have to. Just create your stories and follow the guidelines along the way. Plus, AMP and Instant Articles are the way to go.

Story Chief will never lead you astray!

11. Summarizing key takeaways helps please your audience and boosts SEO

The "TLDR" has been widely adopted as a blogging trick of the trade as of late.

Much like social media, TLDR isn't going away anytime soon. So you might as well embrace it.

Urban legends tell the tale of the origins of the TLDR dating back to as far as 2003, which for modern day tweens are ancient times. The initialism stood for "too long didn't read," and was used by high schoolers as a text message reply indicating that one was far too busy to even justify a response more than "TLDR."

Oh, the travesty.

Credit: theverge.com

But all jokes aside, TLDR plays dual roles.

  • It helps summarize your blog post into succinct one-liners for those people out there who don't always have the time or attention span to read long-form content
  • It's an opportunity to jam in a few more long-tail keywords for your on-page search engine optimization

12. Blogging is a long term strategy that isn't going away anytime soon

Despite rumors to the contrary, people do read blogs. They always have.

The fruits of your content marketing efforts will be be worth it in the long run. Thought leadership takes time. So build up your credibility and be at the top of everyone's mind for in-depth material.

They'll even link back to your content as a credible piece of content.

Inbound links are priceless. As important as it is to include some hyperlinks of your own in your SEO writing, the number of backlinks that your blog receives may be your lifeline to blogging survival.

13. Blogging gives influencers in your niche something to share from your brand

Influencers are busy people. They want to share great original content, and they keep their social media feeds active by mastering the art of content curation. So why not provide them with something to share, so you tap into their audience too? Blogging gives you fresh content that others can share and is an effective content strategy.

There are several ways to extend your reach, including but not limited to:

StoryChief makes it possible to increase your blog's reach by 14 times with its referral marketing system built right in.

Never underestimate the power of the word of mouth.

14. Blogging is affordable

Yes, whether or not you decide to use the free blog provided by StoryChief, it is still possible in this day and age to blog for free on other platforms like many other popular blogs.

Level up your inbound marketing game by investing in high quality blogging. Not only will you drive traffic your way but you'll be able to repurpose your content so you're not constantly reinventing the wheel.

For content marketing teams, blogging is a successful content strategy and much more manageable and affordable than other types of content like YouTube videos or webinars.

15. Blogging supports your other content strategies

Think of all your forms of content as investment strategies, and your library of content as your investment portfolio. Sure, you have to diversify, but be sure to make blogging your primary investment.

Why? You’ll get the most traffic. Your blog is like a content hub. You can use it to share the other types of content you're creating, like a podcast.

If you do create YouTube videos, you can also embed those in your blog posts.

There are so many other different types of content you might want to create, but blogging is still the pinnacle. It's the hub at the center of the wheel. Without a high-quality blog, you miss out on the chance to grow your brand, increase website traffic, and promote your offers.

How to measure your blog content strategy

The content operations software you choose should have several features to make it easy to measure your blogging success. You could also couple these analytics features with your SEO tool to get a complete picture of how your blog performs in search and social.

You’ll want to review your:

  • Campaigns
  • Channels
  • Blog posts
  • Search rankings

This will give you a good insight into which channels are working the best, and which campaigns and blogs are pulling their weight.

Find out how many leads and sales you’ve driven from individual blogs and full campaigns in order to determine what type of content you should replicate.

5 amazing companies whose blog content strategy you should steal

Sometimes the best way to get inspiration for your strategy is to look at what successful companies are doing.

We like to write teardowns that analyze a business’s content marketing strategy, with blogging as a key focus.

Here are 5 teardowns and case studies you can read to learn more about creating a holistic blogging strategy:

  1. Webflow - Webflow expertly publishes blog content across a wide variety of well-organized content categories.
  2. Freshbooks - By putting their customers front and center in their content, Freshbooks attracts more small businesses.
  3. Drift- Drift creates content for all 8 stages of the B2B buyer journey.
  4. ActiveCampaigns - ActiveCampaign focuses on SEO mega guides and driving free trial sign ups from their content.
  5. LucidChart - By constantly updating old SEO blog posts and improving the converions of their blog layout, LucidChart has a highly profitable content strategy.

Your content operations is what allows your strategy to come to life, so make sure that you use processes and tools that help your team publish quality content faster.

Check out our digital publishing platform comparison and learn more about how StoryChief can help you collaborate on blog posts and publish to all of your favorite channels in less time.