Estimated reading time: around 8 minutes
Do you know what makes one business blog successful? It’s not just about producing relevant content that’s interesting, valuable, clever, and converts well. Nor does it come down to stunning visuals and appealing design.
It’s about cultivating a community around your website.
Despite the risk of slipping into a cliché, we need to underline the importance of you knowing why you have a website. If you publish online, you have the intention of actually interacting with someone, i.e. you want people to consume your content. From a content marketing perspective, you certainly want to create strategic content that’s powerful enough to trigger a specific action from your (potential) customers. Otherwise, it’s pretty pointless.
We can agree that building a base of followers is wise, and so is motivating them to become your loyal readers. This is one of the greatest beauties the Internet has brought to us – the ability to easily connect with others, discussing ideas or simply sharing thoughts and perspectives.
Chances are, the moment people recognize your website as worthy of their attention, they will share it with their friends. This is how you organically build relationships and grow your community. From the practical side, this is what will bring your website traffic, your business profit, and your brand – recognition.
Now comes the tricky part.
How do you actually achieve this? How do you stand out from millions of other websites? Here are 3 tips that can help you out.
Tip #1: Narrow Down Your Focus and Be There for Your Audience
One of the most common problems brands struggle with is the lack of focus within their content marketing efforts. They cast their net too widely and then get shocked when there are no expected results.
The truth is, in order to be heard and acknowledged – you need to define your target group and your niche. Once you do that, it’s far easier to map out the pain points of your audience and then position yourself as the go-to problem-solver. Many people get scared when they hear over 2 million blog posts get published every day. That is a lot of content noise and a lot of competition.
However, you have to take in mind that only a small percentage of these are actually useful and extraordinary.
Going an extra mile is your chance to stand out, which means providing tangible value and high quality, real, actionable answers that are helpful to your audience. Specificity does wonders and will motivate people to bookmark your site and spread the word about it. Recommendations are precious for achieving traction and broadening your audience pool, and they can cause a snowball effect.
Your content has to enable your customers to connect with you. The best way to spark interest and maintain it is by finding the perfect balance between two things:
- letting your audience know what they can expect from you and
- occasionally surprising them so they don’t experience saturation or perceive you as a “one-trick-pony”
In addition to all of this, you need to have a spark. The greatest business battles are not won with logic, but with emotions. Honest passion spreads like wildfire and when you find the way to incorporate it clearly in your content strategy – it won’t go unnoticed.
In the era of inbound marketing, your job as a business owner is not only to sell, but to help your customers. In fact, you need to focus not on profit – but on being useful. Revenue and business growth will come as a natural consequence of your efforts to build meaningful relationships.
The audience dictates what is meaningful and important. It is your job to listen and adapt.
Tip #2: Make Your Website a Synonym for Specific Type of Expertise
Now, let’s think about building authority as it is the necessary precondition for building a community. There is a handful of websites that managed to become thought leaders in their industries and build recognition and credibility for themselves. For instance, Ahrefs, SemRush, and Moz are great names in the SEO industry, HubSpot is an awesome resource for everything inbound marketing-related, BuzzFeed is a synonym for light entertainment and pop culture topics.
How did they get there? Firstly, by producing original, fresh, and high-quality content. Secondly, by adapting to their target audience.
And how do you get there? How do you leave an impression that you’re indeed an expert through content?
An effective content structure consists of the following elements:
- Attractive headlines that command action
- An audience hook that pulls them in (this can be achieved through humor, storytelling, some fascinating piece of statistics or a fact)
- Useful and concrete information that solves your audience’s problem
- Single-focused point (a moral to the story or a tangible lesson that will push your audience towards making a purchase as your product/service does solve their problem)
- Call to action (the explicit, yet simple step towards converting them into customers)
You shouldn’t fool yourself: authority is not built overnight and there is no shortcut to it. Instead, it takes time. It emerges organically from your continuous efforts. Persuasive, authority content implies you setting the context and clearly communicating who you are, i.e. why you have the relevant expertise and credibility to help your audience solve a certain problem.
Of course, what your product or service does should always remain somewhere in the back of you relevant prospects’ minds and you should choose topics that enable you to cover all phases of the sales funnel and showcase both logical and emotional benefits you can provide.
Remember – people will decide with their hearts and then justify their decisions with their brains.
Tip #3: Be the Brand That Includes the Audience
If you want your customers to stay loyal to your brand, you have to be aware that all relationships are two-way streets. You need to offer them a reason to stick around, make them feel included and appreciated. Your blog can help your business bloom, but not if you treat it as a place for bragging or as a corner on the web where you constantly publish monologues nobody gets excited about.
Even though it might not seem like it at first, but your blog is actually a beginning of a dialogue. It is a starting point of an interaction that can take many different turns. Having control of the outcome is what strategy is all about.
You need to make your audience feel comfortable as if they are talking to a friend. Gone are the days when companies had to keep a cold distance from their audience. In fact, that kind of tactic today might shoot your business in the foot. You need to attach a humane tone to your brand, adapt your language so that it resonates with your community.
Be approachable and commit to bridging the gap that exists between your business and your customers. You do so by prioritizing their well-being and their interests, not buy aggressively trying to sell them your products or services. You do so by letting your customers symbolically take over your brand and shape it according to themselves.
Make your customers feel important because they are important to you. Here are a few ideas on how you can include them:
- Write your article posts in a conversational tone and address your readers directly, asking them for their opinions
- Encourage your readers to leave comments and share their own experience; this is a great way to ensure they know you value their perspective and truly recognize them as sources of knowledge
- Create interactive content (quizzes or clickable infographics require action and can strengthen the bond you have with your customers)
The success you achieve in broadening your pool of customers is highly dependable on the way you define your brand identity. Modern customers consume brands with all their senses, so it’s your job to make the experience both memorable and worthwhile for them so that they choose to revisit your website and repurchase your products.
It’s all about nurturing a conversation with your audience. This means you need to be active within relevant online communities (be it social media groups or forums) and direct your attention towards individuals, ask them what they think. That’s what fuels your reputation, generates word of mouth, and make people say “hey, I like these guys, they are cool”.
The basic dynamics is quite simple: customers want to feel appreciated. The only way you can achieve this is by ditching the corporate approach and personalizing your business and all of its operations. Make your business personal and your brand memorable and don’t make the most common mistake companies make: don’t underutilize your website as your channel of communication – it is truly invaluable.