For a lot of us, writing for the Web can sometimes feel like shouting into the void. It’s estimated that there are over 3.6 billion people on the Internet to date—that’s just a little over half of the world’s population. So what hope do we bloggers have to catch their attention?
The good news is, when you are blogging about a very specific subject matter (building materials) for a very specific audience (homeowners, contractors, distributors, etc.), you don’t have to worry about getting your words out in front of billions of eyeballs. You just need to make sure you’re getting them in front of the right ones.
In the last few weeks, we’ve thoroughly explored how to:
- Find topics to write about for your building materials blog
- Write compelling posts efficiently and on a regular basis
This week, it’s time to talk about distribution.
The whole point of blogging, after all, is to reach potential customers. So today, we’re going to explore the different ways you can find readers for your building materials blog via:
- Organic search
- Social media
- Email marketing
Let’s dive in!
Organic Search: It’s All About The Keywords
When it comes to drawing readers in to your building materials blog—as well as the rest of your site, really—search engine optimization (SEO) is your friend.
SEO is the practice of optimizing the text on a page in a way that makes it easier for search engines like Google to crawl and index them, and to serve them up as results for users’ searches. Google has gotten smarter over time, favoring high-quality pages and focusing on the delivery of the most helpful information possible.
So what does this mean in terms of distributing your blog posts organically?
It means you need to optimize the hell out of them. Here’s how:
- Include keywords where they count. Don’t try to stuff your posts with a bunch of keywords and hope for the best. Instead, focus on one or two that you know people are searching for, and include them in your post title, section headers, the URL of the post, and a few times in the body of the post. Remember: Don’t overdo it!
- Get your meta data in order. This includes making sure your keywords are also in the meta description of your post, as well as the ALT tags of your images.
- Include links to supporting content. If there are related posts or pages elsewhere on your site, make sure you link to them. It’s also a good idea to link out to other reputable sites, as Google pays attention to the company you keep on the Web.
Now, I can already feel you wondering how you can compete with the paid ads that always seem to gobble up the top of search results pages.
According to data from Smart Insights: “Paid search equates for just over 5% of all traffic, with organic hovering around the 95% mark.” That means that even though some companies may pay for the first few spots in search results, users are more likely to click on the results that come up organically.
And the higher the better—the click-through rate (CTR) for search results drops significantly the further down the page they appear, so it behooves you to optimize as much as possible.
Social Media: Find People Where They Hang Out
As we explained in our post about buyer personas, a major part of digital marketing is understanding who your audience is. That includes where they hang out online.
There are a ton of social networks and related sites out there, but the big ones include:
Social media can serve as an amazing platform to distribute your building materials blog posts, but there’s more to it than just signing up for all networks and blasting links to your blog out a hundred times a day. If your audience doesn’t spend a significant amount of time on certain networks, it could be a massive waste of time.
For example: If one of your buyer personas is a millennial homeowner with a penchant for DIY home improvement projects, they’re likely going to spend a lot of time on visual sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Houzz to find inspiration and recommendations. They probably don’t look for that information on LinkedIn.
The best practice is to focus on a handful of networks you know your audience uses, and share your blog posts in a timely, consistent manner. Remember to:
- Share posts more than once. People use social media on different days and at different times. Since some platforms move rather quickly, you’ll want to make sure to share each post multiple times over the weeks and months after it’s published. Make sure you don’t always use the same text, though—change it up each time you post.
- Utilize hashtags and mentions when relevant. Certain platforms like Twitter and Instagram rely hashtags to make searching easier, so try to include a few that pertain to your blog topic. And if you want to tap into influencer marketing, you can @ mention leaders in your field to check out and share a post you think they might find interesting.
- Follow the Cocktail Party rule. No, I don’t mean get nice and drunk before you tweet. At a party, the person who walks around only talking about themselves will be avoided like the plague. On social media, it works the same way—someone who only ever tweets links to their blog will be ignored compared to someone who shares helpful information and engages in real, meaningful conversations.
It also helps to keep your ear to the ground in terms of what people are discussing on their preferred social network. This works best on conversational platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn. Get involved in public conversations and forums where people are asking questions related to building materials or their projects—when the time is right, you can help answer them by sharing a relevant blog post that you wrote.
Email Marketing: Yes, People Still Read Their Emails
This distribution channel doesn’t get enough love, if you ask me.
Though you may think email is an outdated form of communication these days, there’s great still value in email marketing, especially for B2B organizations. According to Campaign Monitor and McKinsey, email marketing is 40x more effective than social media when it comes to customer acquisition. That’s not bad!
When it comes to promoting your blog posts via email, it’s all about consistency and strategy.
The first step, of course, is to build up your email list. You can do this a number of different ways, depending on how your blog and site are set up:
- Include an opt-in form on your site. This could be a pop-up, slide-in box, or sidebar/footer form that allows users to easily sign up for updates from your blog.
- Include an opt-in checkbox on your forms. If you have other forms on your site not related to your blog, you can still include a checkbox at the end that allows users to indicate if they also want to receive regular blog updates.
- Create a subscription landing page and promote it. If you want to pull subscribers from all over, you can create a landing page extolling all of the awesome stuff you blog about, and include an opt-in form. Promote this page on social media on a regular basis.
Once you’ve started to build a nice list of blog subscribers within your email marketing tool of choice, it’s time to start sending your blog posts out on a regular basis.
There are a few different frequencies you can try out to start depending on the frequency with which you blog. If you post multiple times a week, you could send each post out individually as soon as they’re published or pick one day of the week to send out a blog roundup (this is what we do). If you post less frequently, you can get away with a bi-weekly or monthly roundup.
Over time, you can—and should—adjust when you send your emails and how many you send to optimize for the best open and click rates.
Your emails should always include:
- Your name or the name of your company in the “From” field. People tend to delete emails from unrecognized sources, so make sure they know it’s you.
- An enticing subject line. This could be the headline of the blog post you’re promoting (which should also be enticing), or perhaps a question that will intrigue or be relatable to your subscribers. Try to avoid salesy words that might land you in the spam folder.
- A personalized salutation. If you’ve approached your opt-in forms strategically, you’ll have asked for a user’s name as well as their email address. Nearly all email marketing tools will allow you to add a personalization token so your email can begin with “Hi [first name]!” rather than a generic “Hello friend.”
- A clear call to action. Obviously, in this context, the call to action is to read the blog post(s). Try not to clutter your email with other links and information—those can be saved for separate marketing emails. The goal here is to get readers to your blog.
As for what your emails should look like, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that is proven to work best. Whether you go for a beautifully designed, image-driven template or a plain-text email with links will likely depend on how serious you are about your branding (which we’ll talk about more in-depth on this blog soon).
Remember: Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
At the end of the day, there isn’t a magic bullet that is going to guarantee that people will read your building materials blog. More often than not, it’s a process of trial and error.
You may find over time that posting more frequently to social media doesn’t increase your traffic, but sending frequent blog roundups to subscribers you gathered from your website does. Or maybe after a year of little traffic, you’ll notice a major spike in organic traffic as Google starts to view your site as more reputable.
As with most things in life and digital marketing, running a successful building materials blog takes time and effort, but the benefits it could have on the way people view your brand and find you online are well worth it. By following the tips outlined above, you can ensure that you’re not, in fact, shouting into the void, but rather, sharing your expertise with the audience that matters most: your customers.