“Businesses with websites of 401-1000 pages get 6x more leads than those with 51-100 pages” says inbound marketing thought leader Hubspot. Now, you don’t have to churn out 401 blog posts to get real business from your blog, but you get the point. Your results get better with a stronger commitment.

Unfortunately, people often don’t understand in practical terms what taking their blog seriously means. If that describes you, you’re missing out on a great long-term ROI. Once you get that blog post up, it sells for you for years, until your website goes offline.

Imagine paying a salesman a one-time, fixed commission, and reaping the rewards for eternity. That’s what blogging is like – but you have to be patient.

I’ve worked and consulted with more than 50 different businesses regarding their blogs. Some have seen as much as a 200% increase in leads after taking a better approach to blogging, while others got their very first leads from their blog.

But, what stops most business from getting these results is 1 of 3 problems:

  1. They don’t start blogging in the first place because no one believes in it
  2. Their blog is started using their own internal resources, but they give up once they realize no one has enough time to do the work
  3. Just enough money is thrown at it to get some posts “out there,” but never see any real, consistent results

Blogging has a great long-term return on investment. But, just like you have systemized processes in place to make other areas of your company profitable, you have to do the same with your blog.

What matters is taking the right steps to get real, profitable leads from your blog. If you keep these 7 things in mind, you well be well on your way to a good blog and ideally, plenty of leads or sales.

1. Take your blog as seriously as any other part of your business

I don’t have to quote any fancy statistics to show you that B2B and B2C clients come from the web now more than ever. They’re savvy, and after browsing thousands of websites for many years, they have an idea of what a legitimate business website looks like.

If they see a website that looks 3-5 years old, they think:

  • “This business can’t possibly be operating anymore”
  • “There’s no way this business is any good at what it does”

So, the very design of your blog shows how much you care about your customers/prospects. Think of it as the same thing as your real-world storefront.

Your blog doesn’t need to be anything incredible, or even costly. But it does have to be modern, well organized, and pleasing to the eye. Your company does not have to spend that much on your blog, but you need to be willing to shell out for a nice design and consistent publishing schedule.

Take a look at Hubspot’s blog home page to get an idea of what to do:

Here’s what it does well:

  1. It Passes the Eye Test. It looks like a blog.  Several posts appear on the first page. The colors work together nicely. Visitors will believe that, yes, this is a living, active blog.
  1. Beautiful Magazine-Style Layout. While some blogs may get content right, others get aesthetics terribly wrong. Hubspot is simple but colorful, clean and full of life. Not only is it easy to understand and navigate but it’s pleasing to the eye, something essential in a world where navigating away from the page takes only a single click.
  1. Conversational titles and copy. Key to blogging is the use of clear, conversational language. Explanations should be simple and jargon-free. Ideally, titles or content will help the reader connect by addressing him or her directly with words like “your” and “your”.
  1. Social sharing icons. Beyond being used for sharing, social sharing icons are also ‘social proof’ that others find your content worthwhile. Hide the social icons and you indicate there may be something wrong with your content.
  1. Consistent publishing. How many blogs have you visited where the most recent post was from 2-3 months ago? Hubspot’s blog has well over 5 posts per day on average.

That’s a pretty intense publishing schedule. You don’t need to do that with your blog, but you should have at least a couple posts per month if you want people to keep checking back in.

 2. Know what your prospects need to hear to feel confident in you

What are your most common sales objections? How does your customer service team respond to questions? How do the sales representatives answer questions?

To a certain extent, blogging works in a similar fashion to real-life sales. The main difference is that instead of verbally solving problems or expressing views, you do so in word form.

Sales reps and customer service teams typically have great people skills, something you would want and expect of them. They’re often able to communicate a point well through speech. The same is required of those that you have chosen to write on your blog. Just because someone has the expertise, doesn’t mean they have the ability to write well or to write in a manner that converts.

One of the biggest mistakes business consistently make on their blog is almost exclusively promoting their own products and services. While you are absolutely allowed to do this, you should do so sparingly. Follow the 80/20 rule of inbound marketing. 80% of your content should educate and offer value to your readers, while just 20% is a direct promotion of your products and services.

Prospects on the web want to buy from you, but you have to build the relationship by giving them value first.

3. Write the best post of its kind that can’t be found anywhere else

When you write with this attitude at the forefront of your mind, your customers don’t have a reason to turn to your competitors for answers. “Best” used here means it gives the most thorough answer, solves the problem and basically sets out to fulfill the promise of your subject line.

Much of what you read online will be unoriginal or the same things said in a slightly different manner. To put this into perspective, just think about what Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt said in 2010:

“Between the birth of the world and 2003, there were five exabytes of information created. We [now] create five exabytes every two days.”

Regardless of this statement’s accuracy, it puts into perspective how much is produced online. If you hope to compete in this crazy world, you have to better than the rest. You have to solve problems, answer questions and basically knock the socks off your readers by providing the most valuable resource they can find in whatever your niche is.

Some companies give away their trade secrets on their blog – an act of immense confidence because they understand that sharing information is not the same as being able to execute on it. Of course, you don’t have to take that approach. Simply find the angle that is right for you.

KISSmetrics does an exceptional job of this. Most business blogs do not go into as much depth as they do, partly because conventional wisdom states ‘brevity’ is best, but also because writing in as much detail as this company does is hugely time consuming.

Their post Which Social Accounts Really Matter and Why is exactly 2,239 words long, a common length on their blog. That outright shatters the myth of the 500-word blog post that people want to read because it’s “fast” and “easy.”

The truth is people will read as much as you write – if it’s valuable and written in an engaging style. The owner of KISSmetrics also operates blogs on Crazy Egg and Quicksprout, and has used all three to publicize his company, connect with his readers and become a multimillionaire.

That said, don’t expect your readers to buy immediately just because you’ve written a few good posts. It will take time to position yourself as the best and time to move them through the buying cycle. However, by writing the most valuable posts on the web, you position yourself as the best to buy from when your prospects are finally ready. And, if your blog or website has showed them you truly understand and can meet their needs better than anyone else, they will buy from you.

4. The quality of your blog posts reflects the quality of the clients you get from your blog

If you haven’t gotten the quality of leads you want, then this might be your problem. This brings us full circle, back to the real-world storefront idea discussed in point #1.

If you write fast, simple blog posts for the sake of putting content up, you’ll attract cheap, low-profit customers. It’s all about making yourself look professional in the eyes of your clients.

You have a sales team that knows how to give a killer presentation and that wins business more often than not. This time, your sales team is your blog. Make sure it knows how to do the same thing.

5. Always use casual, conversational language

Internet readers are on the go, and while they will read blog posts providing they are useful and engaging, they need simple, relatable language. This goes for any audience – ranging from uneducated consumers to powerhouse CEOs. Make their lives easier.

Every blog post should be written as though are speaking it. If you wouldn’t say the word to a person standing next to you, don’t use it on your blog.

Some businesses fall into the trap of using fancy language to “impress” customers. They aren’t impressed. Instead, they get angry, frustrated, or confused, and leave.

The tone of your blog can be one of many different things. You might like to stay factual, be funny, or have strong opinions. There’s really no right or wrong tone. You just have to think of your goals for your blog, and be willing to use a tone that suits those goals.

And, if you decide to take an opinionated approach, be prepared to deal with people’s opinions – good or bad!

6. Be consistently exceptional

Once you know what types of posts your audience responds to, give them more of the same. Reviewing your analytics every month or so will give you an idea of what they do and do not like. You’ll want to check out metrics like bounce rate and average time on page.

Feel free to look at your competitor’s blogs to see which posts of theirs get the most social shares. If you know that some topics perform better than others, you may want to write your own opinion of the same topic.

You will not hit the spot with each of your posts, so be patient. Keep the bigger picture in mind and take the time to get to know your audience. They are the most essential people and you ought to know who you’re writing for.

Wrapping it up…

Make your blog the best available resource for your audience and it will not be a question of whether or not you can attract high-quality leads, but when you will attract them.

If you’ve got any blogs to recommend, or thoughts on the topic in general, share them below in the comments section.

AvatarDan Stelter

Dan Stelter is a freelance business/finance web writer and currently runs his own web content firm.