Blogging is a key piece of many successful marketing plans. While blogging is not a new concept, it is still overlooked by many healthcare organizations. Those that do employ blogging do so without understanding how to use it effectively within their overall marketing plan.
Effective blog posts focus on solving specific customer problems or fears. They use the search terms (keywords) that their customers use when searching for answers. Effective blog posts are written so that they are easy to read and understand and are easily shared with others.
Our last blog article, “Discover What Your Healthcare Customers Really Want,” focused on the keyword “what your healthcare customers really want.” Now, when someone searches for “ “what your healthcare customers really want,” our article shows up first in the Google search results. Most people who search for a particular term will click on the first search result.
Well-written blog posts that answer specific customer problems are more effective than advertising because they attract customers instead of pushing them. Even better, they attract only those customers who are likely to be our best customers.
Also, we don’t have to pay anything for this highly effective marketing. Our one-time effort of writing a blog post that answered a particular problem will continue to attract our ideal customers for months and years to come.
Here are 7 steps to help you get started blogging and bring in your own flood of potential customers.
Step 1: Understand why you are blogging
For most companies, the main reason for blogging will be for inbound marketing—to attract more leads via useful blog posts. You'll also write to establish your company (or yourself) as an expert. Other reasons might include entertainment and sharing news. Know what your main reason is and keep that top-of-mind. It will make a big difference in how effective your writing is.
Step 2: Know to whom you are blogging
Begin by developing buyer personas. According to HubSpot, "A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers." In other words, you're creating characters that represent your ideal customers.
You may have more than one buyer persona for your business. Here is a free toolkit to develop your own targeted persona.
Step 3: Create a list of categories and topics to blog about
Don't create a detailed list of posts right away. Start with a few broad categories that will be interesting and useful to your personas and somewhat related to what you do. For example, MedEd Web Solutions uses categories such as medical web design and HIPAA hosting. Once you choose your broad categories, brainstorm a few specific blog topics for each category. This won't be difficult because these topics will be related to your business expertise and services.
Step 4: Write your blog posts
This is a huge topic that can be covered in an entire book; so instead, here are a few tips:
- Do keyword research and use your keywords in both the title and content
- Write blog posts in the 1,000 to 2,000-word range
- Include a main image and 3 to 4 images that supplement your content
- Use subheadings and write short paragraphs
- Link to previous blog posts
- Outsource blog writing if it feels to onerous or if writing isn't your strength
Step 5: Use a blogging schedule
Also called an editorial calendar, a blogging schedule makes it easy to keep track of what blog posts will be released on what day. From there, you can then work backward and determine when you need to start writing your blog post. If you work with a team, you can also determine and schedule who will do the editing, add images, create a lead magnet or CTA (call-to-action), and publish. MedEd Web Solutions uses Trello for our editorial calendar, and we love it.
Step 6: Have a follow-up plan
After someone reads your blog post—then what? Too many company blog posts have no call-to-action and no follow-up. If your main point for writing a blog post is to attract potential customers, you need to have some plan to capture those leads. One of the most effective ways to capture leads is to end your blog post with a call-to-action.
At MedEd Web Solutions, we end every blog post with a free offer that is related to the blog content. This free offer is called the call-to-action. When you click on the image link, you're brought to a landing page where you can fill in your name and email and download your free offer. This offer is also called a lead magnet because it attracts leads.
Once we have our lead's email, they are subscribed to our email list. We use a system involving the HubSpot software that makes the email marketing process easy. It is better for our leads because we can then only send the information that is most useful to them.
Step 7: Use social media to spread the word
Now that everything is finally in place, and your blog post is available to the world and ready to start attracting leads, it's time to let everyone know. This is where social media excels. While social media is not very useful for direct selling, it's excellent at indirect selling through sharing information.
If you have a main image for your blog post (a best practice), use this image to post to all of your social media platforms. For a great example of how this should look, head on over to the CWS Facebook page and look at the last several posts. Most of them are posts about the latest blog articles. They also include a one-line summary or humorous comment, and then link to the blog post and include the main blog image.
Also, remember to follow the unwritten rules of behavior for each social media platform. For example, you should only post once on Facebook, but on Twitter, you should post several times on different days at various times of the day.
And there you go, seven easy steps to start blogging. Once you get the hang of it, you'll find it's pretty simple. Just like riding a bike. You'll fall down several times, skin your knees, suffer minor concussions, and end up riding 40 mph down a busy street yelling, "Look, Ma—no hands!"