I've seen a few different approaches.
Some companies simply have their blog buried somewhere on their website.
Some start an industry-wide standalone publication that's more like a magazine/newspaper.
Some build a standalone blog just for their company
Some build some kind of a content hub, kind of like Hubspot that seems to mix a bit of everything.
How should I choose where and how to structure my content? Where should I be directing my energy to efficiently generate leads? Does separating your blog/publication from your company website reduce the visitor's exposure to your brand too much? Does the increase in visibility of the blog/publication as well as amount of outside content offset the reduced exposure to your brand thanks to greater quantity of visitors?
You've asked a lot of questions here. And I can say that these approaches are all valid.
> companies that bury their blog are often tentative about it. Someone in the company has decided that it doesn't warrant attention - perhaps it's not ready for prime time.
> Industry-wide stand-alone publications work for some niches, but if you're talking about paper, they are old-school and dying. Digital magazines are one option I've used.
> Stand-alone blogs exist, but from an SEO point of view are usually a bad idea because your domain name equity gets spread across two sites, diluting it. For most, it's best to utilize the main domain name for all content, with subfolders for industry verticals.
> Hubspot like sites are curation oriented, and if you have the manpower to develop curation to your industry, they can pay off because you save people time and energy by focusing the news. Most, sadly, are horribly done.
> Content structure is hard to answer, but I recommend that you not stray too far from the path of blog convention - people are used to a certain approach - categories, tags, subscriptions, etc.
> Content itself is where most people DIE in blogging. Simply stated, they are publishing *crap* and you must avoid it. I've done a lot of thinking about this, and the slog of content marketing. Rather than repeat a bunch of advice here, I invite you to see these URLs where I've given it some proper thinking:
The most leads come where marketing promotion and content are set up so the visitor flows naturally from one to the other.
They start investigating or discovering free content, then from links in the content or below/around the sidebars or a popup lightbox they click through to other material. And then an explicit sales message is put in front of them that they activate.
The way to plan and structure your content is to first plan your product sales hierarchy (what they buy first, second etc) and then align the content which will persuade a visitor to buy each to work in concert stepping them up naturally from a browse to a first purchase, return for a second purchase etc.
I suggest you start with a planning session to map out your business products and the content you've already got. Then put these into a process so new content, new social sites and new products can be added over time using the same structure.
If this sounds a bit confusing, give me a call and let's help you out.
Most of the times stand alone publications are made up of biased stuff put together to boost the awesomeness of publisher's products, I believe these cannot bring in a lot of leads.
A blog on the other hand can cover a diverse range of topics, you may put references to your publication and your products inside your blog.
That way, your blog will become more authentic. You can also get others talking about your blog which will eventually bring people to your product catalogue.
Good observations - there are many options out there with pros and cons to each depending on your type of business. Having helped hundreds of companies through that process, here are a few general rules of thumb:
* If you've got content TRULY unique to an industry, AND you've got the wherewithal to support getting in front of the right people (advertising dollars, elbow grease, etc.), launching a standalone publication can be a viable route.
* Given that I'm typically working with time and/or budget constrained companies, finding a way to work within existing systems is often more practical. Example: Starting an industry forum in LinkedIn (if you happen to be in a niche that doesn't have one already).
* Generally, a blog that is part of a company website (blog.company.com or company.com/blog) is a good route to go. That way blog traffic contributes to the overall traffic to your website, creating the sort of "Google Juice" that helps to improve your ranking in search engines over time.
The application that you use to build the blog/publication is really a separate question. The two most common platforms are WordPress and HubSpot. If your goal is ultimately lead generation, then there's no question in my mind that it's worth it for you to take a really close look at HubSpot. HubSpot is a much more comprehensive tool for managing a lead generation process. It's best in class, hands down - nothing else comes close.
Hope that helps you in the right general direction. Happy to answer any further questions you have about the pros/cons of WordPress vs. HubSpot and how to generate leads online, just give me a call. Good luck!
How can you serve your market and customers best? What answers are your customers trying to solve? What resources do they use? These questions can be answered by some research you can conduct. The outcome will help you decide the right topics and formats.
Hope this will help you.
It's always a good idea to start with your own website before creating a separate branded blog somewhere else, especially if resources are limited.
The added benefit to this is all of that good karma and link authority that comes from your blog, backlinks, social shares, comments etc. is right on your own company website, helping with SEO for your landing pages, instead of splitting it across several domains.
When planning your content strategy, always start with your audience and potential buyer. Who are they and what are they most interested in? Whatever content you write doesn't necessarily have to correspond directly with your product/service, it simply has to be something you know your audience cares about, is searching for and sharing on various social channels.
I'm available if you want to book a chat.