Does your website have a clearly defined purpose? And if so, does your blog support that purpose unequivocally?
Most websites act as online headquarters and marketing outposts for the businesses they represent. Everything about a website, from its design to its blog, should be structured to fulfill the business’s primary objective, which is usually to generate profit.
A blog is one component of a website, yet it is an area that often drifts from a website’s core purpose. I’ve seen business bloggers posting personal stories and photos, engaging in political or religious diatribes, and sharing other content that simply has nothing to do with their main objectives.
There are exceptions to every rule, so certainly there are situations when publishing seemingly unrelated content makes sense. Public figures, such as artists and entertainers, often share personal stories and perspectives. Some businesses make a conscious decision to support or oppose social causes. But these actions should be carefully planned to build the business’s brand and reinforce its values publicly.
The vast majority of websites are better served by maintaining blogs that are focused on the goals of the website and business.
Building a Purposeful Blog
Purpose starts with development — planning, designing, and building the blog. Every blog should be clear and easy to navigate. But including purpose in a blog’s development goes deeper. Here are some questions to consider:
- Is the design (color scheme, layout, and graphics) aligned with the brand, and does it complement the business’s offerings?
- Does the content drive the visitor toward fulfilling the business’s goals?
- Are there any unnecessary distractions that would lead visitors away from the business’s goals?
Design is often the first consideration in building a website and its blog. A website that sells yoga gear should be relaxing yet energized. Lots of black and red or in-your-face, edgy graphics would be contrary to the overall mood that such a site should cultivate. The look and feel of the site should fit naturally with the site’s offerings and the business’s brand, and it should compel the target audience thematically and visually.
Hopefully, you already know what you want visitors to do on your website. Maybe you want them to purchase an item from your online store, fill out a form to request a quote, or subscribe to your mailing list. The goal for the blog might differ slightly from the website. For example, maybe your main website is selling a service. You want visitors to contact you and request a quote. You could then use your blog to provide supporting information about your services. That’s what’s happening here — we sell website services and this blog provides insights and information about running a business website.
It’s important that your blog posts steer visitors toward some desired action. If your goal is to get visitors to subscribe to your mailing list, you can place a subscription form at the bottom of every blog post. But you should also be aware of avoiding distractions that could pull visitors away from the goal. For example, while an occasional link to offsite resources might make sense, you generally want to keep visitors on your site and refrain from sending them elsewhere, at least until they’ve done the desired action.
Blogging with Purpose
Designing a blog is one thing. Generating content for your blog is another. There are millions of blogs out there, and lots of them deviate from the goals of the businesses they represent. To keep a blog focused on its purpose, make sure each post accomplishes one of the following goals:
- Promote or advertise products or services.
- Build relationship with target audience; this includes drawing new customers and fostering loyalty among existing customers.
- Establish expertise and credibility within the market space.
- Offer entertainment, education, or inspiration that is relevant to the target audience and connected to the business’s offerings.
Every business blog should promote products and services offered by the business it represents. This can include announcements about new product launches, contests, and special offers as well as a subscription-based newsletter that provides exclusive deals and giveaways.
People tend to develop relationships with the products and services they use. Often these relationships extend to the businesses that provide those products and services. I often use the fandom of Apple products as an example of a brand that has cultivated a persona that people connect with on a personal level. Some businesses naturally lend themselves well to this approach, especially those that offer art, entertainment, and leisure or luxury items. But look at the Charmin bear, a character that is designed to foster a relationship between customers and their toilet paper! Blog posts that build and strengthen these relationships or that attract traffic to the site (and therefore the business) are purposeful.
Some bloggers get too deep inside their own heads. Blogging can be a form of personal expression, but if you’re blogging for business purposes, then each post must offer some value for the readership. Posts can entertain, educate, inform, or inspire but should do so in a manner that is connected to the business’s offerings. When writing blog posts, always remember this: it’s not about you; it’s about your customers. Avoid high-level industry jargon and topics unless it’s a good match to the audience you serve.
The Almighty Call to Action
One of the most purposeful elements on any page of a website, including every blog post, is a call to action. This can be a banner, a form, a button, or a link that drives the visitor to the next step you want them to take. In terms of purpose, the call to action is critical.
When designing a call to action, ask what is the next step you want the visitor to take? Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Purchase your product or service?
Make sure you design your blog and create blog posts that guide visitors to the ultimate purpose of your website and business offerings.
Want help planning and producing a blog for your business website? Contact me to get a no-obligation quote.
Melissa Donovan is the founder of Buzz Pro Studio, providing website services to small businesses and independent professionals.