How often should businesses blog? We review our own case data across a two year timeframe to find out the impact of blogging on traffic.
It's estimated that at least 60% of marketing content is under utilised - Sirius Decisions
Quality content is a crucial tool for Inbound Marketing campaigns. It’s the fuel behind buyer education and lead nurture. But what impact does implementing a regular blogging strategy have? What results should you expect from increasing your blog frequency, and how often should businesses blog?
To find out, back in March 2014 we, at Strategic-IC, commenced an increased blogging strategy. Here is a review of the impact it had on organic traffic received, in relation to the volume of blog post content developed.
How Often Should Businesses Blog?
As an agency we test all client recommendations on our own campaigns first, to establish best practice.
With that in mind, we used a common client challenge as a basis for this blogging test case. Taking the perspective of a CMO in charge of their business blog, we wanted to understand how much content they would need to plan & produce in order to achieve:
Greater levels of organic traffic
An increase in quality leads
Higher levels of blog subscriptions
As marketers need to be able to justify the resources involved in content production, we also wanted to understand how much traffic would be generated as a result of increased blogging.
Why Is It Important To Blog?
You might be wondering why it’s important to blog in the first place. A blog is not just a place to share your thoughts. Measurable benefits of blogging appear from multiple angles; quality blog content can boost search rank, enhance traffic, attract higher quality leads, and will also establish a brand as a trusted niche expert.
Why? Because blogging aligns with the way B2B buyers purchase today. Modern buyers now look online for answers to their challenges before reaching purchase decisions. By regularly creating quality content that supplies the answers to their initial challenges, a blog will attract and build trust with a relevant audience of potential buyers.
From a traffic perspective, and as HubSpot have found in their own research, companies (of all sizes) who post upward of 11 pieces of blog content per month see a distinct increase in traffic compared to those publishing less content. This is true for both B2B and B2C organisations; essentially, the more blogs you publish, the greater the traffic you will receive. HubSpot have also found that companies who publish 16+ blog posts per month gain 4.5X more leads than companies publishing 0 - 4 monthly posts.
Image courtesy: HubSpot
Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 - 4 monthly posts.- HubSpot
The Relationship Between Search Rank and Content
Posting regular content also plays an integral part in SEO. Google today aims to understand the contextual meaning behind searchers’ intentions, and looks at the semantic context of content to assess authority. As a result, creating isolated blog posts that focus on one set keyword is not enough. You need to create multiple blogs, all semantically relating to an overarching topic, to draw relevant traffic, boost authority and enhance lead generation potential.
A good way to achieve this is to develop a content hub; a collection of multiple content assets (blogs, guides, eBooks etc) which interlink around one umbrella topic or hub keyword (often a buyer persona challenge). The combination of this content then helps Google see you as an authority on that topic.
Strategic’s Blog Experiment
In order to find out blogging best practices, we monitored blog content posted to the Strategic Internet Consulting blog over a period of two years, from March 2014, to March 2016.
In this time frame:
The number of blog posts on the site grew from 6, to 181
The blog saw a 1271% increase in traffic - organic traffic grew from 143 sessions per month at the outset, to 1817 sessions per month in March 2016
All blog content was mapped to resonate with specific buyer persona challenges
This was achieved by:
1. Creating Persona-Challenge Specific Content
Content planning all begins with a single buyer persona, and a buyer persona challenge.
Without a clear understanding of who you are targeting and why, campaigns are open to failure through a lack of focus. To mitigate this, all blog content was mapped back to an overarching persona-based Inbound campaign. We ran multiple campaigns over the course of the two years, but in each instance, all activity and content was planned around a single buyer persona and aligned to address a specific challenge that persona had.
For example, a common, specific challenge our buyers have is ‘How To Plan An Inbound Marketing Campaign’, so in early 2016, we created a full Inbound campaign and editorial calendar around this hub challenge. As the theme of this campaign (and related blog content) was very specific to our personas, it resonated incredibly well with our audience and had very effective results
Targeted Paid Social Ads - LinkedIn Sponsored Updates and Facebook Ads. These were targeted to reach our ideal Buyer Personas only.
Social Promotion - Content was promoted daily on company LinkedIn and Twitter channels.
Employee Advocacy - Content was promoted by each staff member on their own social channels to extend reach. Sales staff also engaged in social selling activity.
Blog RSS Emails - Blog content is excellent nurture content. To ensure new leads and subscribers were aware of our content, we began by promoting successful, popular blog posts through RSS email campaigns. We also sent an RSS email to our MQL list every time a new blog was published.
Editorial Placement - In early 2016 we began guest posting on relevant sites - environments that our personas were active on.
Starting Organic Traffic Volume: 143 sessions per month (March 2014)
End Organic Traffic Volume: 1904 sessions per month (March 2016)
Traffic Increase: 788% increase in two years
Avg. Posts per month: 14
The Effect Of Regular Blogging On Organic Traffic Levels
In early 2015 our blog was receiving c.400 organic visits per month. This increased to c.1800 organic visits by March 2016, as our cumulative blog post total grew from 102 (Jan 2015) to 174 posts (Mar 2016).
We are also now experiencing an average of 21% conversion rate across our active landing pages, with our latest campaign converting at 36.22%
Image: Gradual increase in blog post volume and traffic
There is a clear correlation between the volume and frequency of blog content published to the level of organic traffic received.
Image: Organic Traffic Increase March 2014-March 2016
However, regarding traffic, it is important to focus on generating quality traffic, not just a good volume of visits. Only quality, relevant visits are likely to convert to leads. But by writing about the challenges and topics your existing and prospective customers specifically have, you’ll be more likely to attract that relevant traffic.
The more challenge relevant blogs you create, the greater your long-term quality traffic generation potential.
In summary, we are happy to say that our statistics speak for themselves. Organisations who commit to regularly publishing quality, targeted blogs - around 11-16+ per month - will be best positioned to drive an increase in relevant traffic, and more likely to generate high quality leads.
Regular blog posting is also an activity that drives continual value - so long as the challenges discussed in past posts remain relevant, those blog hold the potential to attract good traffic long term.