One of the challenges of launching a blog is building a readership.
How do you get customers and potential customers to notice and read your blog?
Here are some key tenets for attracting readers that I’ve shared with clients.
1. Take advantage of existing email lists. You probably have an email database of existing customers somewhere. Why not repurpose blog content in the next email or e-newsletter to that audience? Tease these readers with a tweak of your blog headline and give them a link to your new blog (even ask them to subscribe so they can get each new post right in their email inbox).
2. Create a strategy for the links your blog displays. This is one of the more overlooked strategies for building a readership online. Be purposeful about the sites and other blogs to which you link. Here are some tips: Link often to the blogs on your blogroll (that’s the section on your blog where you share the links from other blogs). Link to potential customer blogs you’re hoping to attract. Link to prominent bloggers in your niche. Remember, each time you link to these blogs, those bloggers will get a note alerting them to your post (the hope is they’ll visit your blog read it, and possibly comment, share your post, or subscribe). It’s simple, yet potentially powerful strategy to build a blog community.
3. Start with your own employees. Don’t forget, your employees are your best evangelists. Arm them with the information they need to share your blog posts with their friends, colleagues, and families. Maybe it’s a sample tweet or Facebook update along with a bit.ly link to the post. (Remember, you want to track these links). Or, maybe it’s a simple reminder on your intranet each week with that week’s posts. Either way, make sure you share blog posts regularly with your internal teams.
4. Take advantage of speaking engagements. You might not get 500 new readers from your CEO’s next speaking gig. But, if you get one new customer who follows your blog as a result, you could argue it’s worth it. After all, all your speakers need to do is include the blog URL in the presentation deck and work a mention of it gently into his or her speech. Minimal effort with a potentially huge impact.
5. Promote your blog at trade shows. Sure, you can list your blog URL on your trade show graphics, but I’m talking about promoting your blog by interacting—taking the offline online. Have a couple computers open with your blog up and running with staffers talking about recent posts and encouraging visitors to subscribe. Maybe you ask a few key customers to write guest posts for the blog “covering” the event you’re attending. Use that as an example to encourage new customers you meet on the show floor to do the same.
6. Integrate your blog into ALL of your operations. I’m not simply talking about adding your blog to your website, but instead integrating your blog into your actual operations. If you’re a retailer, start including your blog URL on receipts? If you’re a hospital, build a mention of the blog into talking points and scripts for patient service reps and those answering the phones. There are many possibilities.
7. Insert the blog URL into your email signature. It’s simple, but you’re looking to build the blog into your comprehensive marketing approach. Keep in mind that by inserting your blog URL into your email different audiences will get a glimpse of your blog, including audiences—vendors, analysts, journalists, etc.—you may not have been targeting.
Arik C. Hanson is the principal of ACH Communications, a digital communications consultancy. He blogs at Communications Conversations, where a version of this story originally appeared.