We need to talk about blogs
Short, snappy texts can be fun and engaging, especially on social media, but sometimes your brand needs that bit of extra oomph or body to show what you are really about; as a brand, or to provide more insight into a specific product or service. So let’s dive into the wondrous world of blogging: how to determine your format as a brand, and some real-life tips, and examples of the virtually endless possibilities.
Blogs: why they matter
A blog is a part of your owned media, enlarging your digital footprint and therefore enhancing your relevant digital presence aside from your social media channels. It allows you to expand more on what you have to say, or why you have to say it, without any particular restrictions in length (yes, looking at you, social media!). And as it can be used as a landing page for your social media posts, it is a flexible and versatile medium which deserves a place in your communication strategy.
How to determine the perfect length of your blog
So you decided to incorporate blogging into your marketing strategy: excellent choice! But as a brand you need to determine the vibe you want to send out into the world. After all, this type of content is less fleeting than a social media post, if done well. The length of your blog posts will therefore need to fit the rest of your content look and feel, and of course convey your message. Let’s go over the possible lengths you can opt for, and its implications for your message and results.
Ultra-short (200-400 words)
This format is suitable for discussions and to create engagement. It’s not that great for social shares because it is often too concise to offer real, in-depth information about your brand or product. Therefore it is less interesting in terms of SEO, but might be interesting to use for describing products or services.
Small (400-600 words)
These are the bite-size informational posts; nice, digestive bits of information aimed at an audience that is less invested. These readers will share this kind of article, so good for social shares and engagement, less so for SEO or generating traffic to your website.
Medium (600-1000 words)
This length is ideal for educational, reference posts that can be shared with people who actually want to learn more about the subject you are writing about. It is usually written in a more journalistic style, which makes it suited to including relevant reference links, which in turn will help to slowly build your SEO presence.
Large (1000-1500 words)
Whether you opt for a large blog post or not depends on your audience, because this may have an impact on lead conversion. In other words: large blog posts really need to fit the image of your brand or product. That being said, it is a great way to generate some organic website traffic through link building, the use of good Call-To-Actions and possibly partnerships.
Expert (1500-2500 words)
You position yourself and your brand as an expert, a trusted source in the field. These blog posts are often referred to as Google Go-getters, because Google loves long posts (around 2450 words). This can be reflected in an increase of organic traffic. Contentwise, make sure you include qualitative reference links - for example to influencers, or objective/scientific sources, so your audience feels educated by reading your text. Additionally, adding downloadable content is a nice bonus; checklists, tips and tricks, educational resources, etc.
How we used blogs for Aardwarmte
Deep dive with Aardwarmte: determining our blog strategy
Like your brand, your blog entries are allowed to evolve. For our client Aardwarmte, we did just that! This brand is all about educating (young) people, and creating awareness about geothermal energy. So we opted for a mix of medium, large and expert blogs, depending on the subject and the aspect of geothermal energy we wanted to tackle. An additional thing we kept in mind was to build up to the longer posts; no need to saturate your audience too early in your marketing strategy. Starting with the medium and larger posts - touching on subjects like the history of geothermal energy, some real-life examples of its usage, and its benefits, we built up to the blog about safety. For this topic we really wanted to use a longer blog post, which is also the reason we chose an interview format with a geologist, an expert in their own right. Lastly, as the blogs were meant as one big introduction about geothermal energy, we also created short, educational videos that could be used for all target audiences, and recycled as well for social media. Discover how our designer Joachim made Aardwarmte come alive.
The results are in!
After a couple of months we can isolate some definite trends for our Aardwarmte blogs. The introduction blog, with some general information about geothermal energy (what is it, how can we get it, etc.) did OK, but considering this one is the first to have been published, it stagnated after a while. The following blogs about specific topics, like history, real-life examples and benefits for our climate kept on performing strongly over a longer period of time. Some of them did very well, especially in the first few weeks. With its accessible length of 600-700 words we hit the tone of an educational blog, which encouraged readers to finish the text, and explore the rest of the website.
The results of our expert blog were the odd one out, as well as the final one which was targeted to businesses. When analysing the results of both blogs, we noticed that although the number of views and clicks were not that high, the expert blog had the highest average reading time, and the business blog had a very low exit rate, meaning people were not leaving the website after reading it. This is a very positive sign, as it implies that although not many people were induced to click on it, those that did were truly interested and took the time to read the article and look for more information on the website. One of our last blogs also did very well; in three weeks time it gathered more views and clicks than some of the other blogs, because it touched upon popular subjects we used before (sustainability, recycling, circular economy).
Overall, the results are quite positive. Readers that visited the website via a blog, usually kept on browsing, and spent enough time on the blog itself to read it. And that was our main goal: provide reliable information about a subject, in an accessible and engaging way.
Our learnings: tips and tricks
Because that’s what you’re here for, right?
- Know your audience: what are the types of media they follow, and the type of content they interact with.
For Aardwarmte, one of our target audiences is education, so we tried to keep the tone of the blogs as accessible as possible. We also paid special attention to lay-out, for example using bullet points, and plenty of breaks in the text.
- Blog length: Determine which blog post length benefits your brand the most, and its message. If this is a mix of different lengths, go for it, but keep in mind it needs to be consistent with your subject matter.
In one case for Aardwarmte, we were very sneaky with this. Technically our blog about the research in Flanders was more than 1,000 words, but because we used a timeline, the actual text that is displayed at any given time is about 600 words, which is a small blog. Don’t be afraid to hide information or extra texts in plain sight: timeline, infographics, etc.It makes technical texts more bitesize and gives control to the reader whether to dive deeper or not.
- Visuals: add enough visuals for readability. This can structure your text, and can make a text more memorable. Make sure its style is consistent with the rest of your digital presence.
We were very lucky that for Aardwarmte, we also had a very visual and informative social media plan - based on the rebranding of the website, soft and light, with a lot of whitespace - which resulted in the creation of informational, animated videos. Shorter snippets were shared on social media, but could also be used in the blogs, in addition to Call-To-Action buttons and pictures. Experiment with what works for you and your brand, and don’t be afraid to mix it up: infographics, maps, videos, gifs, photos or illustrations.
- SEO and references: don’t forget those keywords that are relevant to your brand, and are loved by Google or other search engines, even if your priority is engagement. And quality reference links can make sure readers will want to explore your website, which can only be only a good thing, right?
For Aardwarmte we are introducing a new term for an old concept; geothermal energy. So it was important to include this term as much as possible in our blogs, and linking it to geothermal energy. After doing keyword research into the subject, key terms like renewable, sustainable, CO2 neutral and circular economy were featured throughout all of the articles. And of course, we also included reference links that led to pages on our own website, but also to quality sources elsewhere, thus increasing credibility and expertise.
- Inclusion: include your blogs in your conversations, online and offline. Of course you are sharing it to your social media channels, but switching it up might be beneficial. Add it to your newsletter as a little teaser, or mention it in conversations with possible partners, influencers, etc.
And lastly, not an official tip, but we found it helps immensely: have fun with it! A blog is supposed to be informal, conversational. Depending on the tone and voice of your brand, don’t be afraid to experiment with language or concepts. For Aardwarmte, we injected some educational fun into one of our more technical blogs about CO2; go and have a look and see if you can spot the koala. Did you spot him in our teaser image as well?
Let’s get started!
Still unsure if blogs are for you, or how to incorporate them into your marketing strategy? Let us help you; our strategists at Wax Interactive are raring to get stuck into your brand and see what would work for you. And when you have come to a decision, we can let loose our talented content creators to create compelling content, short or long copy. Let’s get in touch and create your legacy!
The talents behind this project
Because teamwork makes the dream work.
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