Does your website have a clearly defined purpose? And if so, does your blog support that purpose unequivocally?
Most websites exist to serve 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 cases where 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 political positions or social causes. But these actions are almost always carefully designed to build their brands.
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:
- Does the design (color scheme, layout, and graphics) complement the business’s offerings?
- Does the content drive the visitor toward fulfilling the business’s goals?
- Do features like widgets and plugins work toward the business’s objectives?
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.
Lots of websites are packed with text, some of which is uninteresting to perspective customers and some of which is only interesting to whoever is running the site. A site that has dozens of pages to peruse might have too much content that overwhelms visitors. A business site is probably not the best place to host a photo album featuring your beloved cats. On the other hand, if it’s a site about cats or if a cat is your mascot, then go for it.
Website and blog features come in many shapes and sizes. From eye-catching slideshows to splashy sidebar widgets, there is a wide range of plugins available. These can enhance the functionality and usability of your website (and provide back-end administrative benefits). But a feature is useless if you’ve stuck in into your site just because it looks cool or cute. Make sure your site’s features and its functionality are carefully selected to help your blog meet its business goals.
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 promotes and advertises the 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 contests.
People tend to develop relationships with the products and services they use and 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.
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 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.
Melissa Donovan is a website consultant and copywriter. She is also the founder and editor of Writing Forward and the author of over seven books.