Just bought a new domain. giusec.blog. Starting from Nov 21th, .blog domains are in fact available through get.blog and KKWT. No idea what to do with it, yet. For now, just wanted to block the domain, and then I will see.

A new logo for the blog

I am running a contest for a new logo for the blog. Using 99design, which is a cool contest-based design site. I am already getting awesome designs and I love the idea behind the contest. I’ve set up my price and whoever wants to participate is super-welcome. Still 2 and half days before the contest will end, then I will go with a short list/winner.

Blogs at the core of your Content Marketing strategy

I am a blog guy. Blog is not the sexiest piece of social media, but certainly the most effective. Jason Miller, LinkedIn.

Remember the Blogosphere?

I started blogging in the first years of 2000. Remember vintage terms as “the blogosphere”? Well, I was part of the Italian blogosphere, that small Italian elite. Yes, exactly, the “Italian blogosphere”. I started with personal blogs, moving time to time to new blogging platforms to gain publishing and design flexibility and autonomy. I met other bloggers in Milan, which is the town where most of those innovators were based, to exchange ideas and experiences. After a few years, and with a deeper knowledge of blog technology and dynamics, I created an internal blog at the business where I was leading marketing operations for European countries. I always promoted internal blogs as a vehicle of (employee) freedom and as one of the best way to humanise companies and C-level teams. I turned soon to using external blogs as the main distribution channel of my marketing content strategies. Today, after more than 15 years, I am still a blogger and I still believe that bogs are positioned at the core of our content marketing strategy.

In term of technology, after a few years using pre-built blogging platforms (Splinder, Blogger) I moved to the code-heavy Movable Type platform. I finally met WordPress when I switched to my current blog host, a few years ago. About 25% of websites today are powered by WordPress. This is the technology/platform I suggest even to large enterprises because of its simplicity and social integration. But let’s go back to a formal definition, for a moment.

Blogs and (Content) Marketing

Blogs is where all the marketing starts. Blog posts can capture the attention of search engines, build customer affinity, and feed every other social media channel you’re engaged with. At least once a year various social gurus declare that blogs are dead, usually killed or replaced by other platforms. The blog wasn’t dead then, and it’s not even close to dead now. More than ever, today’s blogs function at the centre of content marketing and social media strategy. They tie online marketing strategy together, lending substance to posts on other social media channels and referring readers to those channels.

Based on my experience 60-80% of blog visitors are “new” visitors. They reach the blogs with non-branded searches, which means they are  conducting preliminary research and are at the very early stage of the buyer journey (but this might differ and we should go with a case-by-case approach). If this is the real scenario blogs can be used as a good content hub. Blogs are well integrated with social and are easy to manage and update. Blogs don’t need to sit on top of existing websites, which simplify implementation and small pilots, even if this might influence traffic/SEO strategies.

A few considerations:

  • content fuels social interaction, and that starts with your blog. Infusing your social channels with blog content captures attention (for example, when you link to a blog post from your LinkedIn Company page, you drive potential customers to your site);
  • relevant, well-written content counts. When conducting preliminary research buyers at early stages of their journey look for original, well-written content that offers substantial information. By nature, blogs feature longer-form content, which offers deeper thought leadership. This content is your first step to engaging prospects;
  • the old-fashioned press releases don’t impact media as they used to, but the same kind of idea still lives on in your blog. Use blogs to announce new products, services, features, customer stories and other relevant company news. Press releases fuel content and blogs will benefit;
  • Always keep SEO in mind. Blogs significantly influence your search rankings. The metrics that search engines use just happen to be the exact same web elements that blog posts represent: fresh content and trending keywords that are relevant.

Blog content should be well balanced

As a major fuel source for social, it’s vital to mix up the content on the blog; after all, variety is the spice of life. Just as anyone would quickly tire of eating from the same food group day after day, your customers and prospects can grow tired of consuming the same type of content again and again. Miller and Burnes recommends treating your blog like you would your diet, incorporating a healthy balance of content based on five food groups. By providing a mix of how-to and influencer posts (whole wheat and grains), leadership articles and guest topics (vegetables), research and analysis (meats), light-hearted viral content (dessert and sweets) and bold statements (condiments), blogs will engage readers and, where applicable, hook potential customers.

The final recipe is a 1500-3000-word blog post on a topic that you want to own (Moz.com and Quicksprout analysed more than ten thousand blogs and found that in order to rank on page one within the search engines, your article or post should be a minimum of 1,500 words).

Blogs and Influencers

The fact is simple. According to several data sources and analysis it is obvious who has to tell our company’s story: our customers, partners and employees. Which brings back to Influencer marketing and Employee Advocacy practices.

Influencers are topic experts, thought leaders, or brand advocates who possess strong credibility and an extended reach with your target audience.

From providing a new perspective on your usual blog content, to accessing a whole new audience, these are just some of the reasons why you should consider accepting guest posts. In fact, the results from recent B2B blogging studies indicate that the best content marketers source 25% of their blog posts from external contributors. Your audience will appreciate seeing a new perspective in addition to the topics that you usually write about. As great as our content may be, our audience wants different perspectives on the same topics. This will also increase thought leadership on specific blog themes. Another simple and less sophisticated reason: guest posts increase publishing frequency, and this is an important (proven) driver of more traffic.

Summarising: blogs is where all the marketing starts. Because of its nature and technology, this platform can still be considered as the core of content marketing strategy.

10 Great Content Marketing Blogs (and 1 Blog Reader)

Based on a recent post from Content Marketing Institute (CMI), a new research from Orbit Media’s – the second annual survey of 1,000 bloggers – and some common sense, blogs might be considered as a seasoned content platform, but are far from extinction. In fact, CMI’s 2016 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report found that 81% of content marketers (still) include blogging among their techniques.

Before I start with my personal take on the best content marketing blogs, all you need is a blog/news aggregator. It’s plenty of blog readers on the market. I decided to go with Feedly, for 2 main reasons:

  1. it looks like Google reader (remember?) and recall old RSS readers, which makes me feel at home, being an old seasoned blogger…
  2. it’s cloud based

In plain words, Feedly is a news aggregator. What makes Feedly stand out is its availability as a cloud service so you can have access to your RSS streams across all your devices. Also, it has a few extensions for browsers. Thanks to customized categories even huge amounts of content can stay well-organized and easy to digest.

In plain words, Feedly is a news aggregator. What makes Feedly stand out is its availability as a cloud service so you can have access to your RSS streams across all your devices. Also, it has a few extensions for browsers. Thanks to customized categories even huge amounts of content can stay well-organized and easy to digest.

That said, let’s move to my personal list of Content Marketing blogs. I have used most of these blogs to put together a documented Content Marketing strategy for my business unit. Of course this is the point of view of a B2B content marketer. Other industries, other sectors and B2C marketers might be attracted by something different.

  1. Content Marketing Institute (@CMIContent) – awesome content marketing blog and primary source for content marketing strategy. Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi), the founder, and Robert Rose (@Robert_Rose) are among the many contributors;
  2. Michael Brenner’s Marketing Insider. Michael (@BrennerMichael) is VP Strategy at NewsCred and founder of the brand new Marketing Insider Group (@MKTGInsider), former B2B Marketing Insider blog;
  3. The NewsCred Content Marketing blog is an obvious choice: NewsCred is a top platform for content marketing and the blog is one of the best content marketing resources today;
  4. Contently’s Content Strategist blog is also a great source. I simply love their unique and endless list of client stories and content marketing examples, weekly featured on the blog. Joe Coleman is one of the co-founders and CEO (@JoeDColeman);
  5. MarketingProfs (@MarketingProfs) – Led by @AnnHandley one of the best resources covering the latest trends in content marketing and storytelling;
  6. Copyblogger Blog (@copyblogger) launched by Brian Clark (@brianclark) in 2006 it’s one of the best blogs teaching bloggers and marketers how to write more compelling content;
  7. Neil Patel’s (@neilpatelQuickSprout Blog(@quicksprout) another great resource on content and SEO;
  8. Kapost’s Content Marketeer run by Jesse Noyes (@NoyesJesse) and his team;
  9. Hubspot Content Marketing Blogs (@Hubspot) – Top resource for content marketers;
  10. Marketo Blog: ideas and best practices on marketing automation and content marketing from the blog of one of the best marketing automation platforms on the market today ;

Done. Easy and straight forward. One last comment: it’s plenty of other fantastic blogs around (see resources section at the end) but I am obsessed with simple/short things, and so I went with a minimalist 10 blog list.

Oh… and in case I’ve missed someone you read religiously, please let me know in the comments below!