B2B blogging: Why it’s essential and how it often goes so horribly wrong

The Internet is awash with statistics about incredible value of B2B blogging and yet, every few months, I come across a B2B company that's decided to get rid...

B2B blogging

It still amazes me that only 33% of B2B organisations have a blog. The only question is: are the other 67% sleeping, or have they made a conscious decision to go out of business?

B2B blogging

The Internet is awash with statistics about incredible value of B2B blogging and yet, every few months, I come across a B2B company that’s decided to get rid of its blog and just make occasional updates to the ‘News’ section on their static website.

After I lift my jaw off the floor, I ask why, and the story generally goes something like this:

  1. Company X starts blogging because someone went to a conference and heard that fresh online content ranks higher than old or static content due to Google’s 2011 Panda update.
  2. After several confusing emails about Pandas, Management agrees that a blog is absolutely essential and should be launched.
  3. Although it’s essential, Management fails to allocate any budget to getting the blog professionally written and instead says it expects staff to ‘fit it in’ alongside their other, equally important tasks, such as making sales, trying not to burn out, oh… and keeping their job.
  4. Management also fails to train staff in any of the essential skills of blogging, such as writing, SEO, social media, content marketing, simple image and video editing.
  5. The IT department – who wouldn’t know a blog if it danced in and ate their tuna bagel – design the blog to look and feel exactly like the News section on the corporate website, only with tiny option to add a comment if you first register on the site, which nobody will ever do, and the user journey is confusing, but that’s not their problem.
  6. They too have no idea about SEO, so the URLs for each post read something like blog.companyx.com/article/12345, which Google’s crawlers will simply laugh at and crawl away from.
  7. The Marketing Team don’t really understand the blog either, so they don’t integrate it into their email marketing, advertising, social media or offline marketing activities. They do, however, keenly set about writing a series of nauseating, thinly veiled sales pitches which immediately alienate the few early readers the blog has attracted.
  8. A month after the blog is launched there is no blog strategy or plan. There is no schedule of posts, no promotional plan, no budget, no targets. The person who instigated the launch of the blog becomes desperate and starts nagging people to write more often.
  9. Six months after the blog is launched it has digital tumbleweed rolling across the page. Even the keenest of bloggers has long since given up – because nobody even read their last post (a stilted, four-paragraph sales pitch for next generation electrical nodes).
  10. One day a company Director sees that nobody has posted to the blog in over 3 months. Others chip in that it’s simply an unnecessary drain on time and resources. A week later, the blog is taken offline.

I’m sure this story will resonate with many people. The fact is – when managed properly, blogs are phenomenal marketing channels, especially for B2B organisations.

In October this year, one of our clients generated over 100 downloads of a white paper from just three relevant – and very interesting – blog posts. 18% of the readers of those posts ended up downloading the White Paper.

That’s pretty phenomenal – but by no means unique. 

Within 6 months of starting blogging, another client had a request from the leading industry magazine (in a very niche industry) to republish their blog posts. Another who took to blogging actively on technology issues was invited to become a guest writer for the Huffington Post.

These are our first hand experience, but the success of B2B blogging is also borne out in research.

According to Inside ViewB2B marketers who blog attract, on average, 67% more leads than ones that don’t. Hubspot, the inbound marketing specialists, also found that companies that blog have 97% more inbound links (a major factor in SEO).

That might not be such a surprise, but blogging is a cumulative marketing activity – meaning the more you do it, the better the results. Hubspot says that 70% of it’s traffic comes from posts that were not published that month.

Other research indicates that once you have written 21-54 blog posts your blog traffic increases by up to 30% and that businesses that blog 20 times per month get, on average, 5 times more traffic than those that blog just 4 times per month. Another report concurs that once you’ve written 200+ posts traffic often more than quadruples.

Needless to say, blogging is an essential part of my daily work and I enjoy it, but I also know how valuable it can be for lead generation and awareness-raising for clients in niche industries, especially ones that don’t have a culture of using social media. Those are actually the biggest opportunities.

The next time someone asks me if blogging is worthwhile, I’ll most likely just refer them to this post – so please feel free to add your comments and experiences below.

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10 comments

  1. Sam Bailey Reply

    I couldn’t agree more with your post Luke. I’ve found personally that blogging every day for 30 days over November was instrumental for get traffic to my new website. I’ve checked the analytics and they don’t lie – blogging has got traffic to my site. One point I would make is that it can often be difficult to write when you are a one man (or woman) business – any thoughts on how to build it into your routine or blog in a more time effective way?

    1. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      Thanks Sam. I started as just myself too. Rather than writing every day (which is impressive!) I focused on writing 1-2 high quality posts a week, each of which involved a few hours of research and analysis. You still get the quick hit of views within 24 hours – but you also get a really great ‘long tail’ of readers for years to come. Many of our most popular posts are 2-3 years old.

  2. Stuart Harris Reply

    Good outline of what goes wrong. How about some solutions? #4 Poor training: what are some good references for training? (books, online, courses, etc.) #5 Blog design: how about links to some well-designed blogs? Same with the rest. This post would be much more helpful if it at least gave a few hints about solutions. Thanks!

    1. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      Fair comment Stuart. I guess I took the position that simply knowing these things – training, design, planning etc. – are important would be enough to stimulate readers into doing their own research. Certainly it’s the lack of strategic approach that’s the primary failing of the companies I was referring to. I may do a ‘best practice’ post as a follow up, though.

  3. Abhinav Prakash Reply

    I couldn’t help chuckling going from point to point, but its a poignant reality that you have so wonderfully brought out. The Blog initiative in my company is dying exactly for the same reasons of management anti-pathy and IT’s ineptitude

    1. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      I’m sorry to hear that Avhinav, but pleased it raised a smile!

  4. Raymond Reply

    very interesting – blog posts. 18% of the readers of those posts ended up downloading the White Paper.

  5. Jesse Reply

    Wow you’ve really nailed it with this one. I have to admit this is a real hot button for me. I love blogging, but like many others I learned the hard way that there is SO much more to it than anyone ever tells you when you start. In addition to the excellent points you’ve outlined above, there’s all the behind the scenes technical stuff like usage spikes and spam bots, and when you use WordPress (which I love) there are the quirks with plugins. Last year my blog was down for the count 3 times and twice it was because of a conflict with plugins. In a way it’s fun learning all this technical stuff because that’s not in my nature, but it’s hard work and you have to really be determined. Thanks so much for sharing this realistic look blogging.

  6. Raymond Reply

    According to Inside View, B2B marketers who blog attract, on average, 67% more leads than ones that don’t. Hubspot, the inbound marketing specialists, also found that companies that blog have 97% more inbound links (a major factor in SEO).

  7. Jessica Reply

    Certainly it’s the lack of strategic approach that’s the primary failing of the companies I was referring to. I may do a ‘best practice’ post as a follow up, though.

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