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Content Trainer, 10+ Years of Content Marketing Expertise, Content Marketing Trainer
June 21st, 2018
Is your business currently blogging?
What kinds of topics are you writing about?
How much success have you had?
I’m willing to wager that if you’re reading this article, you fall into one of two camps:
Either you’ve been blogging for awhile and just aren’t seeing the needle move or
You’re just getting started with inbound marketing and want to make sure your first steps are in the right direction.
Whatever the case, I’m going to give you a comprehensive list of business blog topics you will want to start writing today.
Business Blog Topics
"Best of" Lists
Pros & Cons
Problems (Your Problems)
Problems (Their Problems)
Definition & Description
Myths & Misconceptions
Over the last four years, I’ve helped dozens of companies launch their inbound marketing strategies and one of the most important aspects of successful inbound marketing is choosing topics that not only connect with your audience but, ultimately, turn them into paying customers.
The mistake I’ve seen far too many businesses make is publishing blog content that simply isn’t relevant to their audience’s buyer’s journey.
The content doesn’t help customers make well-informed buying decisions. And because of that, it is either never read or it leaves little to no impact on the reader.
Where My Blog Topic List Comes From
I got my start working as a content manager for The Alaska Sleep Clinic (ASC). They diagnose and treat sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
They have a service: sleep studies.
And they sell products: CPAP masks and machines.
To their misfortune, however, most of the blog articles on their site didn’t relate to the services they provided nor the equipment they sold.
Instead, they opted for light-hearted, entertaining, and fun articles like:
“What do Dreams Mean?”
“Celebrities with Sleep Disorders”
“5 Bedtime Beauty Tips”
While those might be amusing to read on a site like Buzzfeed, they don’t often help people make buying decisions.
I mean, do any of them sound like they relate to selling diagnostic tests or equipment?
Even if there are some valuable nuggets of information in there, the titles don’t make that known. They’re entertaining -- but not really educational.
When I joined Alaska Sleep, I would have made the same mistakes too because those were the kinds of articles I’d also read and think were interesting.
Fortunately for me, I had an amazing mentor in Marcus Sheridan (whom I would years later go to work for at The Sales Lion and then IMPACT).
Alaska Sleep hired Marcus to teach me the inbound marketing strategies outlined in his book, They Ask, You Answer.
The basis of this strategy is a simple one: Answer the questions your audience is asking.
By applying the strategy of answering the most common questions the staff at ASC was asked on a regular basis from patients, I was able to grow the website traffic from 2,500 visits each month to over 400,000.
I’ve since worked with dozens of businesses helping them answer the questions their prospects are asking.
Through reviewing the top performing content on each site (by view counts, engagement, lead generation, and sales), I’ve found the common topics that bring companies the most results.
I’m going to share them with you below. And note, every link to examples listed in this article are from companies I’ve worked with both at The Sales Lion and here at IMPACT.
1. Cost Articles
Now, this one comes straight from what Marcus calls The Big 5 (as do four others on this list).
Have you ever searched online for how much you might pay for, say...anything?
If you’re like everybody with internet access, you have -- but how often do you get frustrated from not finding answers?
Quite often, right?
Cost questions are so important to buyers, but so few companies care to answer these questions. In fact, they’re afraid to.
Be the company that answers these questions. Cost articles are easy wins for traffic as well as conversions because they build trust.
Note: Cost is so important to not only write about, but to get right, that I wrote an extensive article on the topic, How to Write a Cost Article.
Let’s say you’re thinking about picking up mountain biking.
You moved to a new place with lots of amazing bike trails. You’re ready to explore your new surroundings and have fun while doing it. The only problem is...you don’t have a bike, nor do you know anything about mountain biking.
If I asked you to turn to Google to find the perfect mountain bike, what is the very first search you type?
“Mediocre Mountain Bikes,” right?
No. Nobody has probably ever searched that.
Instead, you probably searched, “best mountain bikes.”
Or, if you wanted to get more specific, you might have searched “best mountain bikes for women,” “best mountain bikes for beginners,” or “best mountain bikes for muddy trails” (depending on where you live and ride).
“Best of” lists are successful for two significant reasons:
They announce how digestible they are.
We love ranking things and seeing how they stack up against others.
Common keywords to use: Any superlative adjective (best, top, fastest, easiest, strongest, longest-lasting, most popular, etc.)
To put things into neat little ranking orders, we often want to take some of the leading entries and have them duke it out in a head-to-head match up.
You can either structure your article by seeing how the competitors fair against each other in different categories, or you can give each it’s own in-depth discussion detailing the pros and cons of it with a nice little wrap-up at the end.
Sometimes we just want to block out the bad stuff and only look at the good stuff.
With Benefit articles, you can write persuasive pieces that only highlight the advantages of a product or service.
While these are important, be aware that they are among the most common articles businesses are already writing about.
Readers are often a little more on-guard when reading these types of articles because they know we want to tell them how amazing our stuff is, and their BS flags will be quick to call us out for over inflating our value.
Be careful how far you push your chest out lest they roll their eyes at you and walk away.
If you really want to build trust with your audience, be willing to talk about the problems with your product or service.
You know, and I know, what you’re selling isn’t the perfect fit for everybody.
It might be a tough pill to swallow, but you should be the first to admit when this is so.
It may be hard to turn down potential leads, but if it was never going to work out in the first place, these kinds of articles can vet out bad fits.
On the other hand, some of the problems your readers heard about might actually have easy solutions. In your article, you can address the problems fairly and offer the right solutions, stopping their objection in its tracks.
The buyer’s journey begins with a problem or pain your customer is experiencing.
They might not know the names of any of the possible solutions, but they’re very aware of their symptoms. So, they turn to search engines to help identify what their problem is (put a name to it) and see what the various solutions might be.
For example, at Alaska Sleep, the most frequently asked questions by our patients were about the problems they experienced:
Why am I so tired all the time?
Is snoring harmful?
Is lack of sleep bad for my health?
Reasons I can’t sleep at night
Symptoms of insomnia
Ask yourself, “what is the root problem my products and services solve? How would my customers phrase their query?”
These articles are often top performers in bringing traffic to a site, but are also very top of the funnel and require lots of lead nurturing to close as sales.
Sometimes people just want a clear explanation of what that thing you sell is or what exactly that service you offer entails.
These articles can sometimes have high competition volume because they’re so easy to answer. You might even find sites like wikipedia, dictionary.com, and the most authoritative entities in your industry ranking on the first page, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also answer these questions.
These article types can often serve as cornerstone pieces of content on a topic you regularly discuss. When you answer more granular questions on a topic, you can always link back to this article as the main hub.
Examples of Great Description & Definition Articles
How can you tell that the person or business you’re thinking of buying from is the most qualified (or at least minimally) to do the job?
Is the general contractor you hired to remodel your home legally able to perform the job or gone through additional certifications to prove his value? Is he licensed, bonded, and insured? What does any of that mean to you?
These articles are your opportunity to educate your audience on what they should be looking for in a high quality product/service -- and maybe even position yourself as such in the process.
Also, if you’re hiring and training employees to fill specialist roles, you could write articles to better recruit or educate your own candidates.
Do some of your prospects have your products and services all wrong? Have they heard or been fed misinformation? Rumors can hurt any brand’s reputation.
Whether you have persistent misconceptions about the product you sell or your competitors are intentionally misleading prospects about your services, you can use your blog to clear the air once and for all.