Blog Marketing - What Works - Exemplified by Five Case Histories

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By Hector Cisneros

What makes a great blog? For that matter, what makes a great blogger? How can a blogger insure their blogging success? As a blogger, I received my training from several successful, experienced authors and writers, (including Dr. Ivan Misner, the Founder of BNI). I was taught that brevity is your friend. I was also taught that prose should be clear, clean, and concise, yet elegant. On top of that, your grammar needs to be impeccable. Your blogs need to open dramatically and beat a clear path that readers will want to follow. Then, your story needs to fulfill its promises by providing useful information that compels the reader to continue reading to the end of the story.

In this episode of Working the Web to Win, I will explore five case studies that show how would-be marketers made their blogging bones. I will detail their methods while exposing the good, the bad and the ugly paths to blogging success they took. These are true stories with some elements modified to hide the writers’ identities. The paths they followed will be explained in detail so you can learn from their mistakes, as well as from their successes. So, get ready to learn from these five blog marketing methods as we explore; “Blog Marketing – What Works Exemplified by Five Case Histories.” 

Most of our marketing prospects have heard of blogging and the concept of content marketing. Marketing falls into three categories today: Push, Pull and Branding.  All three can have some overlap, however, push marketing exemplified by cold calling, is more of an intrusive nature while pull marketing exemplified by blogging and social media work by attracting readers. However, it is important to note that all three methods can be used to push, pull and brand as part of the desired outcome. This article will primarily explore blogging as a “Pull and Branding” methodology. Blogging when implemented properly can provide both “Pull and Branding” marketing with great effectiveness.  Unfortunately, many would be bloggers come to the fray with preconceived notions of “how things should work!” Let me lay down some prerequisites that will clarify some of the reason’s bloggers fail.

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Many who engage in marketing have strongly held beliefs. I did! I was taught by many that blogs should be short (400 words) and only published once. I was also taught, that your primary focus should be on making sure keywords were included throughout the blog since SEO was key to being found online. These types of prejudices often cause a blogger to follow unfruitful paths which often lead to failure and eventual abandonment of blogging.

The best way to avoid this folly is, to begin with, an open mind. Start by thoroughly researching your target market, determining your ideal customer profiles, developing your unique selling propositions, creating a compelling offer, testing your ideas and elements and then following this up by creating realistic goals based on a specific amount of profit you need to achieve (i.e., return on investment).
If you’re are a blogger, it is important to imbue your writing with your passion. It helps others want to read more. It must provide value in a way that is compelling. No amount of keyword stuffing, pithy writing, or SEO trickery will make up for a blog that is not high quality, authoritative, relevant, timely, useful, entertaining and targeted.
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Most businesses, much less bloggers, follow this methodology. Often it is because of the time and money they perceive is needed to engage in this type of comprehensive methodology. More often it is because they are looking for shortcuts, they vehemently adhere to preconceived notions of what works, or they have unrealistic outcomes of what they expect to occur.

Our Methodology – At this point, I need to provide an overview of our blogging methodology. In our system, we believe to be successful (i.e., to build an audience 3 to 5 thousand monthly readers in one year) you need to provide to your potential audience consistently published; high-quality, authoritative, relevant, timely, useful, entertaining and targeted blogs without fail! We believe the best articles are of an evergreen nature based on unchanging principles. Second, best are seasonally based articles and lastly, dated or single-event subjects as the least valuable to produce. These articles are published on the client’s social networks, and if permitted, to our large following as well.

The advantage of posting material to a large, untargeted following is the immense exposure it provides.  This allows them to garner many more followers than they would otherwise. This usually includes publishing one article a week at a minimum. When this article library reaches 12 blogs, we organized them and create multiple curations for each blog post which in turn is then used to begin a recycled posting schedule to their current targeted social following. We also distribute these postings to our large, untargeted social following.  This recycled posting schedule is revised when we reach 24 articles, 45 articles, 65 articles and then again at 90 articles (if they reach that number).
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If the campaign continues for more than one year, dated articles are revised or pulled (if they no longer draw readership) from the rotation. This tactic has been effective at growing a blog from zero to over 5000 page views a month from scratch in as little as a year. Having said this, let's look at five real-world examples.

Case Study #1 The Abject Failure – This client came to us looking to grow their business. We set them up on a program where their part in the campaign was to provide a minimum of one 800-word blog article a week, which we would then copy-edit, optimize and return the blog to the client to be published. We would then post their blog to their social nets and our large social audience. During the first four weeks, the client fulfilled their obligations perfectly. However, after that initial success, they began skipping weekly article writing until they were only publishing one every six weeks. At every step of the campaign, we warned them that missing publishing deadlines would negatively affect audience growth and their ability to utilize their blogging platform to generate social leads. At the end of one year, they had only published 23 articles (verse 52) and only achieved an average of 1200 readers per month. They soon stopped publishing altogether and abandoned the campaign.

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In many cases, these types of clients are looking for shortcuts at the lowest possible cost. They usually say yes when asked if they will perform certain tasks. They passively hear what you say, but don’t listen or believe that consistency is necessary. In some instances, they just run out of steam or ideas and are unwilling to ask for help. They are not focused on measuring results and have preconceived notions of what should occur, (based on their limited knowledge of the blogosphere). They focus on expected results instead of making sure the necessary elements that are needed to succeed are in place. They ignore or misinterpret the analytical results once they stray from the method and are not willing to do what is necessary to achieve success.

Case Study #2 The Defiant Slow Winner – This client allowed us to ghostwrite all their blogs so all of our article criteria were met. However, this client had a turnaround problem. We would create a new high-quality article quickly then pass it along to him for approval and publication.  The problem was, the client often took anywhere from 10 days to a month to get the article proofed, revised and returned for publication. This slowed audience development to a crawl. It took two years to reach 30 articles. What saved them was that fact that they kept at it. With a library of 30 articles, our recycled posting method allowed us to build a decent readership of 3400 readers per month. We are now four years into their blogging campaign, and they have 55 articles and an average monthly readership of as many as 6000-page views per month.

This client did not listen well. In spite of deviating from our prescribed methods, they still did well in the long run because they did not quit.  They did not learn or adapt; their success was a product of sticking to the program for a very long time. They found that long-term consistency does lead to success, even if it's not on a weekly basis. This showed us that a monthly blog with the right distribution could succeed as long as the client took the long view.

Case Study #3 The Self Starter – This client was a good student. They were willing to listen and follow our lead. They followed our method verbatim. They produced more than one article a week on a few occasions. Within the first six months, they started getting leads. By the end of the first years, they had closed several multi-thousand-dollar deals.

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This client’s success was assisted because they drew from previously published material to produce their weekly blogs. They were very active, consistent and determined. They did not hesitate to ask questions, including those needed to come up with ideas for new blogs. They listened well and followed our instructions to the letter.  They set realistic goals, paid attention to the stats and were able to adapt when it was needed. They were willing to test new ideas and topics, and their diligence paid off. This campaign cost them $4,200 for the year ($350 per month) and netted $28,000 in revenue.

Case Study #4 The Open-minded Learner – This client started out as a staunch skeptic. They had been victims of too many overpromised and undelivered marketing campaigns over the past few years. We took our time educating them and had them talk to several of our previous clients as references. During these meetings, we made sure the client fully understood our methods and they were willing to let us control their online marketing campaign for at least a year. After four meetings, they accepted our proposal. This proposal came without any guarantees except for a low-level of social network growth. Within three months of the campaign, their website had moved from page three of Google search to page one, and their readership went from zero to 1,300 plus visitors per month.

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This client’s success comes from allowing us to do what it took within their budget to achieve success. They set realistic goals and had a low expectation based on their budget and goals. They were pleasantly surprised when we exceeded their goals so quickly. Another part of their success is that they are a market leader who needed to rebrand. However, up until they hired us, their re-branding efforts had failed because their efforts were spread thin and were underfunded.  This campaign, although already successful with regards to the goals set, is just getting underway. It will far exceed its goals and will afford this client a bigger and more comprehensive plan in year 2 of their marketing efforts.

Case Study #5 The Marketing Scientist – I call this client the marketing scientist because right from the get-go they were results driven. The biggest problem they had was that they had not done any research. They had been spending a lot of money on pay per click, with much initial success. However, that success had evaporated to the point where they were losing money on their pay per click campaign. When we analyzed their needs, we looked at their strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of their competition. We noticed their competition had better digital assets, including lots of landing pages, blogs, social and video posts. Our proposal included moving half their PPC marketing budget to build an organic following and multiple landing pages (as opposed to only a single all-encompassing website). The center of our campaign was wrapped around a weekly blog and video post which would showcase some aspects and benefits of their flagship products. Their campaign had a page one search engine guarantee, as well as guaranteed social growth. Once they signed on, we began the campaign in earnest. Every week we conference called the client to cover their progress, as well as to get feedback on leads generated, and sales made. Within six months, we had lowered the overall marketing cost of this client by a fourth while meeting our goals and marketing guarantees.
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At the end of the first year, we began phase two where we started targeting specific cities and regions and began fishing for leads with a 120-page eBook specific to their industry, which we produced for them from the blogs we had written for them. The second year was very successful until one of the owners decided they wanted to retire. This buyout cut deeply into the cash flow of the company which brought about an end to this campaign.   

The Vicissitudes of Change - Even when you have a method that is proven you still need to be flexible. The digital world of marketing is always in flux. For example, many search engines use artificially intelligent algorithms to determine ranking which directly affects being found. Social nets can change how newsfeeds and timeline item posts are filtered. New media can blot out newsworthy information when they focus solely on disasters, international or political news. Prospects and customers can become indifferent to newsletters and branded social messages. Even the branded look of a web property can lose its appeal caused by overexposure or ad fatigue. And lastly, it is also possible that you could make other business mistakes that directly affect the results of your successful marketing campaign. Examples; an employee caught engaging in unethical or immoral behavior could kill a company’s reputation, losing a partner or franchise could alter the branding negatively, or improperly using a marketing platform could result in negative press that can diminish your brand. Recent changes in Google A.I. search algorithm and changes in the timeline filter and posting methods allow by LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, have all had an impact of lowering monthly page views. This is not the first time this has happened. In some instances, these fluctuations have caused as much as a 50 percent decrease in readership (depending on the industry and the number of followers a person has). Marketing success is not an easy row to hoe, but success can be had if you follow a proven method.

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Following a method that works is a great start. However, being too rigid is not wise either. Flexibility, communications and regular monitoring are key to long-term success. To use a football coach’s analogy, you have to have a solid game plan to win, but you also need to be ready to alter your plan when things change. In football games, changes occur due to injury, personnel, weather, opponent mistakes, and other situational changes. This is also true in marketing. The company, blogger or marketer who begins with an open mind, is also willing to roll up their sleeves, and is willing do what is necessary will win. If they start with a proven marketing plan and are flexible in its delivery, they will almost always succeed.

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

This article provides examples of common blogging failures and uncommon success through the exposition of five case studies. Each of these case studies details what the company or blogger did right or wrong and what the outcome of their chosen path led to. This article will help all bloggers and would-be internet writers move towards success. It will help them grow a large following and allow them to avoid common marketing mistakes. Additional links to other related articles are provided along with a link to the BlogTalkRadio show notes page.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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