5 Reasons Why Blogging is NOT Content Marketing

Way too many businesses (especially accounting firms) mistakenly believe that having a blog is their ticket to the big leagues. They have an “If I write it, they will come” mentality—as if an excited community will spring up overnight and celebrate their content, if only they could find the time to write.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

Sure, in the right hands, blogs are fantastic tools. Blogging is one of the easiest ways for brands to tell their stories, establish expertise within their niches, and engage customers in a way that’s natural and conversational. Regular blogging can even help with SEO, by ensuring that your website is producing fresh content regularly. The best content will even earn you some social buzz and backlinks.

But it would be a mistake for you to believe that blogging is a catch-all solution, or that it’s right for every business, or (worst of all) that it can replace a great content marketing strategy. Why? Because as great as blogging is, it’s not content marketing.

In this article, we’ll talk about what separates blogging from content marketing and why every business needs a content marketing strategy—even if they don’t need a blog.

1. Content marketing is obsessed with searcher intent

The problem with blogging is that it’s inherently narcissistic. You’re writing your opinions about topics you care about on your website. But if your users don’t find your topics equally interesting and valuable, then you may as well just be another whinging tween with a LiveJournal account, shouting into the void.

The most important starting point when it comes to content marketing (whether or not that includes a blog) is understanding what your visitors are trying to accomplish.

What search query led them to your website? Why did they click on your blog? Why do they keep reading—or, what’s causing them to bounce? What is the end result they’re trying to achieve?

Oftentimes, searchers have multiple intents. For example, someone Googling about a specific tax law might just want to know what the law says, but they might want to know whether or not it applies to them, and if it applies to them, what it means for their upcoming taxes. When searchers have multiple intents, your content should cover all of those topics, or you’re going to some of your audience.

Of course, you can’t just pull your topics out of thin air, either. If you want to understand searcher intent, you need to look at the queries that are already leading customers to your website. For example, a website selling musical instruments might focus on queries pertaining to “acoustic guitars.”

Use visits to qualify areas of interest and start building a list of high-volume queries. Pay special attention to queries that indicate intent to buy (e.g. “best place to buy acoustic guitars”).

Now, you can map searcher intent to keywords. Break down why users are searching for certain keywords, current search volume, and whether or not the query indicates a strong intent to buy.

Keyword Volume Intent Value
Easiest guitar songs for beginners 239,000,000 Informational Low
Best acoustic guitar model 134,000,000 Informational Med
Best deals on acoustic guitars 39,700,000 Transactional High

 

Understanding searcher intent is absolutely pivotal to content marketing, and blogging by extension—at least, if you want your blog posts to succeed. Once you understand searcher intent, you’ll be able to use that information to come up with interesting topics, keyword-rich headlines, and CTAs that satisfy both why users clicked on your website in the first place and your bottom-line business goals.

2. Content marketing considers the entire buyer’s journey

Another big mistake bloggers make is that they only write for a portion of their audience. Most blog writers only write for people in the “Awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey. As a result, when people land on your blog post through queries with a clear intent to buy, they pogo-stick away because they already know all of the information you’re regurgitating. They’re looking for something deeper.

Content marketing solves this problem by creating the right type of content for people at different stages of the buyer’s journey. For example, a cloud-based accounting firm might have multiple pieces of content, such as:

  • Landing pages and infographics for people in the Awareness stage.
  • Webinars and white papers for people in the Consideration stage.
  • Case studies and buyer’s guides for people in the Evaluating stage.
  • Special discounts and email newsletters for people in the Retention stage.

What this firm is not doing is regurgitating every tax update and expecting their posts to gain traction. They wouldn’t be the first firm to do that, and chances are good that it’s not something their audience actually cares that much about.

You can, of course, create blog posts that target every stage of the buyer’s journey too, but content marketers blogs are just one of the tools in a content marketer’s toolbox. We only use blogs when that format is the most effective type of content. In many other cases, we will use social media, ebooks, infographics, videos, podcasts, and more—whatever type of content we need to drive engagement.

(Psst… is your firm’s blog failing to drive engagement? Check out this podcast about How to Write a Successful Accounting Blog Post.)

3. Content marketing doesn’t care about hitting arbitrary numbers

I worked with one firm that was creating great content for a while but it was sporadic. So one day, one of the managing partners decides to pay firm leaders to write a specific number of blog posts each month. As a result, they started hitting their content quota, but the quality dropped.

This is a frequent problem, especially in industries like accounting. Some firms publish dozens of blog posts, but they never explore their topics in-depth or provide any new insights that haven’t been said elsewhere. As a result, bounce rates are high and Google considers these posts to be low-value because nothing in them is unique.

And there’s the kicker: creating a single 2,000-word post that fleshes out and fully explores a topic is way more valuable than publishing a hundred 200-word posts that deliver nothing new.

This is a trap that people fall into both in blogging and in content marketing. By sticking rigidly to an editorial and marketing calendar, they have a firm idea of how much they need to publish each month, but no clear idea of what to publish each month.

Which brings us to the next big difference…

4. Content marketing has a specific goal

When companies create blog posts because they need to hit a specific quota, most of these blog posts are trivial and value-less. Good content marketing, on the other hand, is always backed by a strategy and it always is created for the sake of a specific business goal.

Maybe you want increased sales. Maybe you want to cut costs. Maybe you want to engage with your audience. Maybe you want to build brand loyalty.

If you don’t know why you’re creating something, you probably won’t drive any meaningful results with your content—and that’s a huge missed opportunity. Studies prove that, when it’s done well, content marketing only costs 63% as much as outbound marketing, but it generates three times more leads.

Those are some huge potential gains, but you won’t see success like that unless you clearly understand your personal business goals and create content (and CTAs) that clearly work to accomplish those goals.

5. Content marketing considers the big picture

Which brings us to the most important difference between blogging and content marketing: blogging is just one small piece of a larger marketing strategy that ties everything—from searcher intent to the buyer’s journey to your specific business goals—together. That’s content marketing.

Content marketing is a strategic approach that considers everything about a piece of content, including the creation, distribution, and promotion. It isn’t a blog you write and tweet about once or twice—it’s a steady, ongoing effort that targets a specific audience and drives towards one intended result.

In fact, depending on the business, blogging might not even have a place in content marketing. For example, David Crader talks about how an Ohio-based law office believed that a blog would boost their traffic, only to discover that searches pertaining to Ohio laws don’t exactly have amazing search volume.  

So while blogging is a very useful tool, it is just a tool. Blog posts (like this one!) are very useful. You can use them in a variety of ways: including in your content strategies, social media marketing, and inbound marketing. You can, and should, SEO-optimize your blog and try to rank your posts.

But, at the end of the day, if your blog posts aren’t cutting it, then you need a strategy that you can fall back on. A solid content marketing strategy gives you that freedom by giving you the ability to measure the success of your content and try something new when your current content isn’t working.

Conclusion

Great content takes investment. It’s not easy coming up with amazing topics nobody’s written about before. It’s even harder to ensure that the content you’re creating fits logically into a broader content marketing strategy. Before you can get to that point, you’ll need to have a rock-solid understanding of your customers, your offerings, and your positioning.

Not sure if your content is up to scratch? Check out our 30-minute digital marketing assessment. This free consultation will assess where you’re at in terms of digital strategy, content marketing, and more.

Way too many businesses (especially small businesses) mistakenly believe that having a blog is their ticket to the big leagues. They have an “If I write it, they will come” mentality—as if an excited community will spring up overnight and celebrate their content, if only they could find the time to write.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

Sure, in the right hands, blogs are fantastic tools. Blogging is one of the easiest ways for brands to tell their stories, establish expertise within their niches, and engage customers in a way that’s natural and conversational. Regular blogging can even help with SEO, by ensuring that your website is producing fresh content regularly. The best content will even earn you some social buzz and backlinks.

But it would be a mistake for you to believe that blogging is a catch-all solution, or that it’s right for every business, or (worst of all) that it can replace a great content marketing strategy. Why? Because as great as blogging is, it’s not content marketing.

In this article, we’ll talk about what separates blogging from content marketing and why every business needs a content marketing strategy—even if they don’t need a blog.

1. Content marketing is obsessed with searcher intent

The problem with blogging is that it’s inherently narcissistic. You’re writing your opinions about topics you care about on your website. But if your users don’t find your topics equally interesting and valuable, then you may as well just be another whinging tween with a LiveJournal account, shouting into the void.

The most important starting point when it comes to content marketing (whether or not that includes a blog) is understanding what your visitors are trying to accomplish.

What search query led them to your website? Why did they click on your blog? Why do they keep reading—or, what’s causing them to bounce? What is the end result they’re trying to achieve?

Oftentimes, searchers have multiple intents. For example, someone Googling about a specific tax law might just want to know what the law says, but they might want to know whether or not it applies to them, and if it applies to them, what it means for their upcoming taxes. When searchers have multiple intents, your content should cover all of those topics, or you’re going to some of your audience.

Of course, you can’t just pull your topics out of thin air, either. If you want to understand searcher intent, you need to look at the queries that are already leading customers to your website. For example, a website selling musical instruments might focus on queries pertaining to “acoustic guitars.”

Use visits to qualify areas of interest and start building a list of high-volume queries. Pay special attention to queries that indicate intent to buy (e.g. “best place to buy acoustic guitars”).

Now, you can map searcher intent to keywords. Break down why users are searching for certain keywords, current search volume, and whether or not the query indicates a strong intent to buy.

Keyword Volume Intent Value
Easiest guitar songs for beginners 239,000,000 Informational Low
Best acoustic guitar model 134,000,000 Informational Med
Best deals on acoustic guitars 39,700,000 Transactional High

 

Understanding searcher intent is absolutely pivotal to content marketing, and blogging by extension—at least, if you want your blog posts to succeed. Once you understand searcher intent, you’ll be able to use that information to come up with interesting topics, keyword-rich headlines, and CTAs that satisfy both why users clicked on your website in the first place and your bottom-line business goals.

2. Content marketing considers the entire buyer’s journey

Another big mistake bloggers make is that they only write for a portion of their audience. Most blog writers only write for people in the “Awareness” stage of the buyer’s journey. As a result, when people land on your blog post through queries with a clear intent to buy, they pogo-stick away because they already know all of the information you’re regurgitating. They’re looking for something deeper.

Content marketing solves this problem by creating the right type of content for people at different stages of the buyer’s journey. For example, a cloud-based accounting firm might have multiple pieces of content, such as:

  • Landing pages and infographics for people in the Awareness stage.
  • Webinars and white papers for people in the Consideration stage.
  • Case studies and buyer’s guides for people in the Evaluating stage.
  • Special discounts and email newsletters for people in the Retention stage.

What this firm is not doing is regurgitating every tax update and expecting their posts to gain traction. They wouldn’t be the first firm to do that, and chances are good that it’s not something their audience actually cares that much about.

You can, of course, create blog posts that target every stage of the buyer’s journey too, but content marketers blogs are just one of the tools in a content marketer’s toolbox. We only use blogs when that format is the most effective type of content. In many other cases, we will use social media, ebooks, infographics, videos, podcasts, and more—whatever type of content we need to drive engagement.

(Psst… is your firm’s blog failing to drive engagement? Check out this podcast about How to Write a Successful Accounting Blog Post.)

3. Content marketing doesn’t care about hitting arbitrary numbers

I worked with one firm that was creating great content for a while but it was sporadic. So one day, one of the managing partners decides to pay firm leaders to write a specific number of blog posts each month. As a result, they started hitting their content quota, but the quality dropped.

This is a frequent problem, especially in industries like accounting. Some firms publish dozens of blog posts, but they never explore their topics in-depth or provide any new insights that haven’t been said elsewhere. As a result, bounce rates are high and Google considers these posts to be low-value because nothing in them is unique.

And there’s the kicker: creating a single 2,000-word post that fleshes out and fully explores a topic is way more valuable than publishing a hundred 200-word posts that deliver nothing new.

This is a trap that people fall into both in blogging and in content marketing. By sticking rigidly to an editorial and marketing calendar, they have a firm idea of how much they need to publish each month, but no clear idea of what to publish each month.

Which brings us to the next big difference…

4. Content marketing has a specific goal

When companies create blog posts because they need to hit a specific quota, most of these blog posts are trivial and value-less. Good content marketing, on the other hand, is always backed by a strategy and it always is created for the sake of a specific business goal.

Maybe you want increased sales. Maybe you want to cut costs. Maybe you want to engage with your audience. Maybe you want to build brand loyalty.

If you don’t know why you’re creating something, you probably won’t drive any meaningful results with your content—and that’s a huge missed opportunity. Studies prove that, when it’s done well, content marketing only costs 63% as much as outbound marketing, but it generates three times more leads.

Those are some huge potential gains, but you won’t see success like that unless you clearly understand your personal business goals and create content (and CTAs) that clearly work to accomplish those goals.

5. Content marketing considers the big picture

Which brings us to the most important difference between blogging and content marketing: blogging is just one small piece of a larger marketing strategy that ties everything—from searcher intent to the buyer’s journey to your specific business goals—together. That’s content marketing.

Content marketing is a strategic approach that considers everything about a piece of content, including the creation, distribution, and promotion. It isn’t a blog you write and tweet about once or twice—it’s a steady, ongoing effort that targets a specific audience and drives towards one intended result.

In fact, depending on the business, blogging might not even have a place in content marketing. For example, David Crader talks about how an Ohio-based law office believed that a blog would boost their traffic, only to discover that searches pertaining to Ohio laws don’t exactly have amazing search volume.  

So while blogging is a very useful tool, it is just a tool. Blog posts (like this one!) are very useful. You can use them in a variety of ways: including in your content strategies, social media marketing, and inbound marketing. You can, and should, SEO-optimize your blog and try to rank your posts.

But, at the end of the day, if your blog posts aren’t cutting it, then you need a strategy that you can fall back on. A solid content marketing strategy gives you that freedom by giving you the ability to measure the success of your content and try something new when your current content isn’t working.

Conclusion

Great content takes investment. It’s not easy coming up with amazing topics nobody’s written about before. It’s even harder to ensure that the content you’re creating fits logically into a broader content marketing strategy. Before you can get to that point, you’ll need to have a rock-solid understanding of your customers, your offerings, and your positioning.

Not sure if your content is up to scratch? Check out our 30-minute digital marketing assessment. This free consultation will assess where you’re at in terms of digital strategy, content marketing, and more.

 

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