Coming up with new blog ideas is something that we have to do on a constant basis as content and inbound marketers. But that doesn’t mean it’s always an easy task. From feeling that creativity has eluded you to simply not having enough hours in the day, it can be difficult to keep on top of your editorial planning.
On the other hand, we know that blogging regularly is crucial to our marketing efforts. It’s one of the best – and most cost-effective – ways to attract new visitors to your website and turn them into leads. In fact, according to HubSpot, B2B marketers that blog receive 67 per cent more leads than those that do not.
So how can you keep the creative juices flowing and generate new blog ideas that will fill your sales funnel?
Plan, execute, repeat
Like most things, when it comes to thinking up blog topics that will result in leads, success results from planning carefully, executing effectively, and then starting the whole process again.
Whether you’re blogging fortnightly, or five times a week, the same rules apply. First of all, what are your goals? Do you want to acquire a certain number of leads per month?; promote a specific campaign?; focus on a new buyer persona? Or perhaps you want to concentrate on a combination of these.
Defining your goals will help you to decide what topics you should write about. For example, if you are focusing on a new buyer persona that you've identified, you might plan for a third of your posts to focus on their specific needs and challenges, offering informative and useful content that responds to the pain that they are feeling in these areas. In addition, you may plan for a further third of your blog posts to focus on your other buyer personas, addressing the questions or current issues pertinent to them, while the final third might consider topics or trends relating to your business and the wider industry. Based on this broad planning, you could choose to map out three months’ worth of posts, in keeping with this ratio, outlining suggested titles for each.
It’s worth mentioning that your blog goals should be SMART. That is, of course:
Let’s apply this to one of the examples outlined above:
Specific: you are focusing on a new buyer persona (and want to achieve more leads that fit this persona).
Measurable: you should be able to track how many of the right people read your blog posts and how many (relevant) leads you gain as a result.
Attainable: reaching your goal depends on sticking to a schedule and creating valuable content – this is not necessarily easy but it is possible.
Relevant: connecting with this buyer persona will help to grow and develop your business.
Timebound: you should analyse the results at the end of a defined time period.
Once you’ve reviewed your results and clarified your subsequent findings, you can start the whole process again. This time round, you may need to amend your blogging approach, depending on what you have and haven’t achieved in terms of your goals.
So we’ve established that setting clear goals is a fundamental part of coming up with new blog ideas that will help you acquire leads. But what about the actual creative process? How does it work?
There are no set rules, but there are a number of approaches that work well. Again, let’s return to the example of focusing on a new buyer persona. You might decide to write a series of posts that address each of this persona’s specific fears (which your product or service could alleviate). You might also discuss general industry topics that are likely to pique their interest.
To achieve this, you will have to really get under the skin of your buyer persona. If you haven’t already, flesh out your buyer persona document. You can download a handy template from HubSpot for free here. The deeper your understanding, the more creative you will be, as you begin to uncover the intricacies of your buyer persona’s needs.
Additionally, working in a team tends to yield better results. Why not sit around a table with the relevant people in your organisation and set a timer. Each of you can then brainstorm as many ideas as possible. Once the time is up, these can be discussed in turn. A useful approach that we’ve tried here at Equinet is to implement a traffic light system, whereby each idea is either approved outright, identified as needing more work, or is rejected. You might be surprised by how many ideas you come up with - HubSpot suggest, for instance, that it's possible come up with a year's worth of blog post ideas in an hour. Just remember to try and keep the environment collaborative and positive.
For more tips, you might find one of these blog posts useful:
- 5 simple ways to come up with blog ideas
- 4 ways to overcome blogger's block in B2B content marketing
Consider different stages of the funnel
Starting at the beginning of the buying process is logical - therefore, you will want to focus primarily on top of the funnel (TOFU) content. That is, blog posts that will attract visitors at an early stage of their discovery process to your site – and help to convert them into leads. The topics covered in TOFU posts shouldn’t be too salesy or mention your company specifically. Instead, you should be seeking to educate and inform people about the particular topic you are addressing - and demonstrating your expertise and knowledge of the subject.
You can also consider some middle of the funnel (MOFU) content when creating blog posts. Some of the (right) people that visit your site may already have progressed further along the buyer's journey. They will be interested in posts that delve a little deeper - for example, content at this stage will concentrate on comparing two different product or service options, or look in more detail at the specific features of certain products or solutions.
In all instances, you should include a call-to-action (CTA) at the bottom of your posts, which offers your readers a meatier piece of content, such as an eBook, white paper or video, in return for their personal information. After all, you want visitors to become leads - and offering them additional relevant and useful content will encourage them to convert and allow you to engage with them further as they progress along their buying journey.
To recap, coming up with new blog ideas to fill your sales funnel is a process that requires time and dedication, understanding and creativity. By clearly defining your goals (and going after them), really thinking about the type of content that best suits the needs of your audience, and keeping in mind the buyer's journey, you should see more leads flowing into your sales funnel.