We regularly see headlines pronouncing the death of blogging and promoting video, podcasts or other forms of content as an alternative.
The irony, of course, is that those making the predictions are doing so in a blog. Nevertheless, the question remains valid: is blogging dead?
I am confident it is not but its effectiveness will depend on your target audience. Matching your target audience to your message and the way in which it is delivered is key.
For some audiences, podcasts might well be the perfect way to reach them; others will prefer video. But the death of the blog has been greatly exaggerated – especially if your target audience is in their 50s or older.
So, with it still a valid way of connecting with potential clients, how can you improve the effectiveness of your blog? Here are seven things to consider:
1. Truly understand your audience
Only a handful of advisers have taken the time to create client personas. That is a basic error.
Understanding your target client’s communication preferences will help you decide on the most appropriate content mix. Assuming blogs have a part to play, the work you have done developing personas, including understanding their challenges, ambitions, beliefs and values, will make it easier to write engaging and relevant content.
2. Write for an online audience
We tend to skim read online far more than we do printed material. That means we need to change our writing style, using short sentences, sub-headings, lists and bullet points to get our key messages across.
3. Repurpose your blogs
It takes no little inspiration as well as blood, sweat and tears to produce a blog. So why would you not want to squeeze every ounce of value from it that you possibly can?
Blogs can be used as the basis for many other forms of content, including video, animation, podcasts, infographics and so on. What is more, a blog could be used as inspiration for a guest post on a complementary website or to start a conversation with a journalist.
4. Add carefully chosen images
Articles accompanied by images receive more views and higher engagement on social media. Adding carefully chosen images (no pictures of couples walking arm in arm down a beach please) is therefore important if as many people as possible are to read your carefully crafted words.
5. Up the word count
Blogs should be interesting, relevant and informative. When it comes to personal finance, that often necessitates a certain level of detail. It is also worth bearing in mind that Google prefers longer form content. We recommend articles are at least 800 words in length, ideally longer, assuming the quality of your writing and relevance of the message can be maintained.
6. Be consistent
If content is king, then consistency is queen. Writing and distributing high-quality, informative and relevant content on a regular basis is fundamental to any content marketing strategy. Rarely will a single, isolated blog produce significant results.
7. Get the calls to action right
Writing content and getting people to read it is only half the job; you need readers to take your preferred calls to action.
We recently worked with a planner who had a tremendous piece of content. Google loved it, sending hundreds of visitors each month. Those visitors spent an average of over five minutes reading it – an age in online terms. But guess what most readers did after finishing the article? Left the website. The bounce rate for the page was over 90 per cent.
Why? The calls to action were non-existent. It is so important to get them right, otherwise your effort of writing, publishing and distributing the blog is wasted.
Is blogging dead?
No, far from it. If it is the right way of communicating with your target audience and part of a wider strategy, there are countless reasons why there is still life in the written word.
If you need further proof: you are here and you made it to the end, for which I am eternally grateful.
Phil Bray is director of The Yardstick Agency