Everyone knows it's important to blog in the same way everyone knows it's important to floss their teeth. While we embrace this accepted wisdom at a conceptual level, it's easy to get into bad habits and slowly cause damage that's difficult to monitor until a big problem rears its ugly head.
While virtually every business would benefit from incorporating a blog into their marketing mix, the stakes are even higher for agencies to take their own medicine, and more so if time's already strapped and the fire drill of clients' content flares up again and again.
Here's a rundown on why to prioritize blogging for an agency, why some firms don't, and which marketing agency blogs we can look to as a guiding beacon to assist navigating often dark, relentless waves of content.
Why is it important for agencies to blog?
Much as we might hope genuine strangers will happen upon our sites by guessing at the URL, it's more likely a blog will be their entry point. In this sense a blog serves two purposes: to create something easily sharable through social media to broaden your reach, and to give Google another reason to show you some love.
Blogging is at the root of any good SEO strategy, as every post you write represents a new page to be crawled and indexed, another set of keywords that can be targeted, and another chance for an inbound link. If you were the blogging equivalent of a commercial fisherman, would you rather pin your hopes to a single line or have so many hooks in the water you're guaranteed some bites?
While the blog is great to get people to the site, its next task is to convey your wisdom not by tooting your own horn, but by conveying advice. This ability to build trust through knowledge is the foundation for establishing thought leadership and domain authority in the field. This is important both for the role it plays in new business, but also demonstrates to prospective clients that you're practicing what you preach, walking the walk, eating your own dog food, and mixing your own metaphors.
So why don't agencies blog for themselves?
For the same reason clients seek help for their struggling blogs, writing a quality post and implementing a consistent blogging strategy is easier said than done. Excuses abound, but most commonly we've found many agencies suffer from tunnel vision, focusing so acutely on clients keeping the lights on that they neglect their own needs.
These proverbial "cobbler's kids with no shoes" are joined by another group consisting of linguistic perfectionists who obsess over every detail and those who don't have in-house copywriting in the first place.
A good blog is the Ferrari of your marketing mix: a delicate blend of art and science, allowing room for creative expression but packing a performance punch because time was allocated to implement a thorough SEO strategy.
Sadly, for many agencies this is where it ends. Like an ill-equipped dinner host, many blogs are able to get guests to the party and entertained them, but ultimately were unable to get them seated for the meal. All that effort for naught. Without a conversion path creating a clear next step for a reader, there's no way for the blog to generate leads. Without this vital link, many business (and agency) owners have never experienced an ROI (gasp!).
Which marketing agency blogs lead the pack?
So by now, much fuss has been made over marketing agency blogs and their value, but who out there really has it down and what lessons can we take from their examples?
1. Story Block Media Marketing Insights Blog
Specifically, check out their post entitled "What The Hell is Conversion Rate Optimization?, part of a larger series called The Unholy Power of Conversion Rate Optimization.
This is a great example of a title that's begging to be clicked, and the fresh series tone leverages their New Orleans locale by touching on voodoo magic. But what's most important is that it does all these things while effectively addressing an advanced marketing topic of great concern to many businesses.
2. Kuno Creative Brand & Capture
A snapshot of Kuno Creative's blog would reveal a visually appealing format (who says blogs have to be boring?) that relies heavily on easily digestible, list-based posts.
But beneath the title "6 ways to _____" is a blog that does an excellent job serving up topics geared specifically toward healthcare, one of their main markets, as well as mastering calls-to-action for additional content, aiding in the sometimes dicey lead collection/nurturing effort.
3. Foxtail Marketing's The Fox Den
The Fox Den is a testament to good branding. Like other teams, Foxtail Marketing provides helpful and approachable content for readers with varying levels of expertise, but they do an exceptional job leveraging topical ideas.
This post on Pokémon Go doesn't shamelessly capitalize on a hot trend, it explores the app's success by dissecting the marketing tactics that would appeal to many businesses.
4. SmartBug Media's The Inbound Marketing Blog
SmartBug Media's blog is one you could surely bring home to meet your parents. It's buttoned up with clear visuals, and a uniform layout from one post to the next, giving the reader a sense of consistency whether the topic is an intro to social media for businesses, or a deeper dive into the role psychology plays in a B2B sales funnel.
We're fairly sure it would look your father in the eye.
5. Leap Clixx's Blog
If SmartBug was the dapper suitor, Leap Clixx is the slightly more utilitarian sibling. Their blog format is visually very clean, making excellent use of white space, but the text-heavy format belies some great lead generation techniques.
For the no-frills style, Leap Clixx makes excellent use of in-line CTAs, which we have to applaud, as HubSpot's research indicates these CTAs can be vastly more powerful than end-of-blog banner visuals.
6. Hüify's Learn Blog
While Hüify doesn't post at the same frenzied clip of many other blogs, their measured contributions are exceedingly well thought out.
For those with a different educational style (and let's be honest, who wouldn't rather watch a video than read a blog post?), they incorporate mixed media formats and offer terrific video content with high production value.
In case a consistent blog wasn't good enough for street cred on the agency scene, they also rap about it.
That all sounds good. But how can I get in on it?
The most important aspect of getting a blog off the ground is to begin yesterday. The benefits of blogging accumulate and compound over time so stop wasting time and just get a post up already.
Consider your current clients and the problems they face. Assuming this is the audience you want to build your business around, write about their needs (if not, write to the audience you want to attract). When people have a problem they turn to the internet for solutions, so the goal is to position yourself as the one providing the answers.
Much as Randy Jackson critiques would-be Timber-Biebers by describing their performance as "too pitchy (dawg)", your blog is not the place to sing your own praises. Your blog is a place where you can solve problems, add value, and foster a sense of trust in your brand by giving without asking in return.