When it comes to business blogging, how much time do people put into creating posts? How long are their articles? What goes into them? How often do they publish new content? How do they promote their posts? Do they measure the results?
The answers to any and all of the questions deliver interesting insights on the state of digital marketing. And thanks to the work of Orbit Media Studios, this data has been collected, made available and fun to consume.
For three years running, Andy Crestodina -- the web design and development company's co-founder -- and his team have surveyed 1,000+ bloggers about how they create content and compiled their findings into blog posts, infographics, and SlideShares.
And now, behold: We have new data on how marketers view blogging in 2017. Let's take a look at some of the trends over the years.
Fundamental Blogging Tips
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of blogging ROI, we should establish the basics. When it comes to general, fundamental blogging tips, here are three key ones that we like to follow.
- Know your audience. Never before has it been easier to find out who your audience is. Using tools like Google Analytics and more, marketers can find out where their visitors are from (geographically), how long they stay on the page, and more. Plus, you can create buyer personas: semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Get started creating your own with these templates.
- Crowdsource. Now that you understand your audience, reach out. Using forum-like discussions or your social media communities, ask your followers for ideas and thoughts on a topic in exchange for a chance to be quoted. It's a great way to drive visits back to your blog after the post is published -- plus, it builds engagement on your social media channels. This also goes for the readers you already have. If you're able to, reach out to them and genuinely ask for their opinions on what you're doing well, and what they'd like to see more of from you.
- Teach people something. When you ask someone to read your blog, you're essentially asking to borrow their brain for the amount of time they spend with their content. Make it worthwhile -- entertain and inform. Otherwise, you risk two things: 1) a high bounce rate, or 2) the reader thinking that you just wasted her time. And on that note ...
- Use a call-to-action. One sign that you're doing something right on your blog is if readers want more of it. But don't leave them hanging or asking, "Now what?" A quality CTA should be built to provide your readers with more information on the topic they've just read about. But don't just use it for the sake of lead generation -- make sure it actually provides value, too. (Check out this comprehensive list of CTA best practices.)
Now, let's dive into those trends we promised you.
Business Blogging: A Look at Trends From 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017
In the 2014 research, Orbit Media established some baselines and concluded:
- The majority of bloggers spend two hours or less on a typical post.
- The typical blogger published several posts per week. 5% published daily.
- 80% were creating content of 1,000 words or less.
- Social media was the most common promotion tactic, typically used by 94% of bloggers.
Andy told us that, for bloggers, blogging isn’t a job; it’s a lifestyle. His research indicated bloggers were writing and producing posts everywhere, all the time.
In 2015, Crestodina and I collaborated on an infographic to present the key findings, which reported:
- Average time writing blog posts increased to 2.5 hours.
- The number of bloggers publishing daily (or more) increased.
- Blog posts of 1,500 or more words increased by 72%.
- The use of images increased.
The research indicated more blogging was done during normal work hours. The findings at large inspired Andy to conclude, “Blogging is becoming a more serious, formal discipline.” He also said best practices were emerging.
The 2016 results came together in November, and you can find a detailed analysis of the findings here. Once again, we have created an infographic, making its debut below.
I’ll allow it to reveal the findings, which have evolved to include the tactics that business bloggers believe produce the strongest results.
Blogging was at the center of data revealed in the State of Inbound 2017 reports. What we found here is that blogging, when approached and executed with the right tactics and strategy -- works. For that reason, it remains a focus of marketing activities and plans.
Specifically, blogging was the second-highest-cited top priority identified by marketers, with 53% identifying "blog content creation" as one of the most important areas of inbound marketing for their companies.
Plus, they know it works. A mere 5% of marketers identified blogging as an "overrated marketing tactic" -- for the sake of comparison, 32% said that paid advertising is.
So, there you have it. Curious to see what 2018 has in store? So are we, and we'll be keeping an eye out.