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Learn How to Optimize Your Content and Grow Your Subscribers
Owning a business blog is like being a member of a gym — you've got everything you need at your fingertips, but without hard work and self-discipline, you can't be successful. Well, consider this guide your personal trainer.
Whether you’re trying to increase your daily or monthly blog visits, turn random visitors into dedicated blog subscribers, or promote your blog in new ways, this guide will help. Below, we'll review some strategies and actionable steps for you to follow to grow your blog readership, blog subscribers, and — best of all — paying customers.
Each published blog post is a new opportunity for someone to find your business’s website and learn about who you are and what you offer. By investing in content creation that answers questions for your target customer, you’re establishing a trusting relationship that in turn helps them feel comfortable investing in you as a business partner or solution provider.
But, before you can jump in and start raking in customers, you need to put in work to grow your blog readership. Here's the framework we suggest for getting more readers on your blog.
Below, we’ll expand on these five steps as independent strategies. Here's what you can expect as you read through this guide:
Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.
So, who's reading your blog? The answer to this question is quite literally the foundation of your strategy to grow your blog readership.
Your blog audience is comprised of reader personas. (These are closely related to your buyer personas, which represent who's buying your product or service.)
Reader personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal readers, who you want to ultimately turn into your ideal customers. Creating reader personas helps you visualize and better understand your readers. They also simplify the content creation process and allow you to tailor your blog posts to their specific needs, wants, behaviors, and questions.
Basically, if you know who's reading your content, you know what to write about.
The strongest reader personas are developed using market research and insights you gather from your actual reader base. Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or as many as 20. If you’re just getting started, we recommend focusing on a couple of your main personas first and saving your niche personas later.
It’s also important to think about your negative or “exclusionary” reader personas. These represent who you don’t want as a reader or customer. Perhaps these negative personas are too advanced for your product or service, too expensive to acquire as customers, or only engage with your content for research or knowledge. If you take the time to create negative personas, you’ll be able to segment out the “bad apples” from the rest of your contacts, which can help you achieve a much healthier database.
Reader personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews with your real audience, which includes a mix of prospects, current customers, and those outside of your contact database who would be your ideal readers or customers.
Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need to develop your reader personas.
An important note about reader (and buyer) personas: They should be treated as living, breathing entities — literally. (Ha.)
Over time, it's highly likely that your reader personas will change what they read, where they work, how they educate themselves, and more. Conduct market research on a regular basis and revisit your reader personas often to keep them up-to-date.
Your reader personas influence every part of the blog — its form, style, substance, and topics. If you want to get organic traffic to and from your blog, you need to write about topics your audience is actually searching for.
Here’s what that looks like:
1) Your reader personas search for specific terms or phrases
2) You write posts based on keywords they’re searching
3) Bam. They find your content and click on it, and you get organic traffic to your blog — and ultimately, to your website.
Let's expand on this process.
Choose a few specific short and long-tail keywords or topics that interest your reader personas and build a keyword list. Ideally, these would represent what your personas search for when they're online.
What makes for a good keyword? Well, for example, “Instagram” is not a good keyword — it’s too general and too widely searched for. It also doesn't represent any search intent. Your keywords should be much more specific and target a smaller group of people searching for something in particular.
“Instagram hashtags” would be a more niche topic. Within that specific topic, you could have long-tail keywords such as “Instagram hashtag tracking” or “branded hashtags on Instagram.” These search terms could also inspire new blog posts, such as:
When you find a topic your buyer personas love, start digging deeper and writing more blog posts about it. Tools like Ahrefs and AnswerthePublic can help you discover what people are searching for online and how your keyword phrase is being used.
Creating reader personas helps you determine what kind of content your audience wants to read and consume. As you experiment with different forms of content on your blog, pay attention to what your audience prefers. By measuring post views, shares, comments, and time on page, you'll likely notice your reader personas prefer a certain type of content — and it's this content that you should focus on and master.
Maybe your audience loves listicles (which are the most popular type of blog content for business blogs), or perhaps they’re more interested in highly-visual posts. Here are content types for you to experiment with and test with your audience:
Regardless of what type of content you choose to create, always keep these questions in mind: What are your reader personas actually searching for?, What is the intent behind their searches?, What problems are they trying to solve?, and Which type of blog post makes them click, read, or comment?
Remember, your reader personas should ultimately decide what types of blog posts you produce. You may have a preference for one type over another, but, unfortunately, you are not your own target audience. Your readers should make that decision for you.
Every successful brand has its own unique personality. Although immeasurable, personality is one of the most important aspects of a brand. Why? Because people gravitate towards brands they can relate to.
In life, we tend to make friends with people who are like us, and this is no different with business blogging. Blog readers and subscribers are more inclined to consume content from a brand personality that resonates with their own personality, lifestyle, and interests.
It’s not enough to know what type of content your audience wants — you also need to figure out how it should be written or created. This could apply to your tone of voice (whether respond to a professional or casual tone) or to your image choices (cat memes vs. professional stock photos).
An excellent example of a successfully developed style and personality is Red Bull. Red Bull's brand personality caters to an audience who is active, excited, extreme, and eager to show off their experiences, and its brand reflects a style of content suited to this audience. Their popular blog shows people doing a lot of active, exciting things such as biking, skiing, skateboarding, or other extreme sports. All their content is high energy and intense, which matches their product — energy drinks — perfectly.
How often you schedule and post blog content will be different from your social media and email cadences. How do you determine your blog post schedule?
First, look at the type of content you're creating — and how long it takes to create it. This will determine how often you post on your blog. Generally speaking, the more time and resources you put into your blog posts, the less frequently you’ll publish content.
You also need to keep your reader personas in mind. What time of day are they online and likely accessing your blog? How frequently? When will they be most likely to see your posts?
Once you’ve determined the frequency of your blog posts based on your post type and your audience, you need to start routinely scheduling it. You can do this by using a blog editorial calendar. This may seem like extra work, but it can actually minimize your blogging efforts in the long run. Planning your publishing schedule ahead of time is the best way to ensure consistency and efficiency across your team.
The most important thing to keep in mind is this: the frequency of your blog posts doesn't matter as much as the consistency. Whether you post once a day or once a week, stick to that schedule to grow your blog readership.
Consistently producing blog content that appeals to your reader personas isn't enough to grow your blog readership. You also have to optimize each blog post to increase new blog traffic. What does an optimized blog post look like? In this section, we talk about important blog optimization techniques that will help your content be discovered by new readers and subscribers.
Let's review how to optimize each component of a blog post.
Growing your blog reader base is exciting, but it's not enough. Blog subscribers are the key to a successful business blog.
A reader and casual visitor becomes a blog subscriber by intentionally providing their email address. This action is important as it tells you that readers find value in your content and want to proactively receive new blog content and updates.
Your number of blog subscribers is arguably more important than your blog readers. Blog subscribers are the key to more blog traffic, and blog subscribers are also considered "warm" leads — they're aware of your content, they've provided personal information, and they're returning readers. As thrilling as it is to grow your blog readership, blog subscribers are the ultimate goal.
The gap between blog readers and blog subscribers can be a wide one, though. New visitors likely need some convincing to return time and time again and to ultimately subscribe. Just as with any effective call-to-action (CTA), you need to clearly demonstrate the value in subscribing to your blog. Explain what visitors will get when subscribing.
Check out HubSpot's blog subscription CTA:
Our readers have a clear understanding of what they'll receive as a subscriber. You’ll need to prove this value whenever you ask for someone’s email address, too.
Now, let's talk about the many ways you can capture those emails and get blog subscribers.
A great way to convince people to subscribe to your blog is while they’re actually reading the content. Within your blog posts, drop text-based or image-based CTAs that lead to your dedicated blog subscription page. Subtle CTAs are useful for nudging people in the right direction without being too pushy.
Consider using other channels to promote your blog subscriptions. Encourage your social media followers and email subscribers to subscribe to your blog — these folks are great candidates as they've already demonstrated an interest in your brand and content. These channels are great ways to amplify your blog and gain unexpected subscribers.
Here's a hidden tip: Add an additional checkbox field to your landing page forms so people can subscribe to your blog with just one click. This one small trick actually helped HubSpot increase our blog subscribers by 128% in just 3 months’ time.
Check out this download form for our Complete Collection of Content Creation Templates:
See how we provide an option to subscribe our Marketing blog alongside the original form fields? This saves readers time and energy by allowing them to subscribe with a single click — and it captures their information when they're already submitting it anyway. (Note that we offered a subscription to our Marketing blog, not our Sales blog or Service blog, as the original landing page is most relevant to marketing.)
If your blogging software is integrated with the rest of your marketing software, this trick is very easy to implement. At the simplest level, you need to have control over the fields on your landing page forms as well as the ability to export a list of people who opt into your blog through these forms so you can add them to your blog subscriber list.
As you’re implementing all these blog subscription efforts, make sure you’re constantly testing to see which messaging works best for your reader personas. Read more about how to conduct A/B testing here.
Let's pause and review what we've talked about so far. You've established your business blog reader personas and determined the topics and keywords that resonate with them. You've started to craft some blog content, optimized that content, and used that content to turn your readers into loyal subscribers.
What's left? Well, no business blog succeeds without blog and content promotion. To ultimately grow your blog readership and blog subscribers, you must promote your blog to new readers.
In this section, we'll cover some tried and true ways to promote your blog, drive new traffic, and continue growing your blog readership.
To recap, keep these mind as you’re growing and scaling your blog readership:
Blogging is an incredibly effective way to drive new traffic to your site, collect new leads, and ultimately convert your visitors. When the going gets tough, remember that your blog — through authentic, consistent content — can help build trust with consumers looking to invest in a solution or service provider. Your blog can make the difference between a business they buy from once and the brand they come back to time and time again.