By Jennifer Osborne
What differentiates a tactic from a strategy?
A strategy is the plan for achieving a defined goal. A tactic is the “doing” part of the strategy. Tactics can be put together in a plan to form a strategy.
Time line is also an important differentiator between a tactic and a strategy. A blog can be up and running in a very short time frame (hours or days). A Strategy usually takes much longer to achieve (months or years depending on how lofty your goals are).
This is the second in a 5 part series looking at Blog Strategy with a focus on Clients. In this post, I’m going to look at how to develop a Blog Strategy for your Client. What makes it a ‘Strategy’ versus just building your client a Blog?
Starting a new Blog is a tactical move. You select the platform, customize a template, add a few plug ins and you’re done. Maybe it will be a success, maybe it won’t.
What transforms a Blog from a tactical move to a Strategy are:
These principles apply to any Strategy, in this post I am going to take the above steps and apply it to a Blog.
1. Goals and Objectives
There are many good reasons for starting a Blog.
Having a good understanding of what you want to achieve will assist in setting the tone for your writing; determining what topics you’re going to write about; and making decisions about how often to Blog and whether you wish to have multiple authors.
It will also influence social networking decisions such as if you’re going to show and allow comments, if you’re going to employ social media tactics.
2. Outlined Plan
Getting the right level of detail in a plan is very important. I’m a visual person, so I like to start planning with a diagram
Here is where I currently am -> -> -> -> and this is where I want to get to.
Then I break this plan down into the high level steps that must happen to get me from A to B. Personally, I like to plan three levels deep. Steps A, B, C, then A1, A2, A3. then A1i, A1ii, etc.
By planning three levels deep, you can take big steps and break them down into bite sized, doable pieces. Unless you’re working on a 18 month IT project with 60 project members, I don’t recommend planning in much more detail than this.
Although detail is awesome, sometimes you can get caught spending too much time planning and not enough time doing (also known as Paralysis by Analysis).
It’s important to make sure that your metrics are tied to your objectives. If your goal is to increase traffic then one of your metrics should be to measure increase in traffic.
Make sure that you set an actual number. Setting SMART objectives is very important. Jeff defined these principles really well in his post about setting goals for social media Profile Development.
It could be a percentage increase in overall site traffic or could be a 12 month goal. If you blow away your 12 month target by month 3, you can always adjust this goal later.
Here is a Blog Strategy for a Typical Client which employs all of the above:
Client Objective: My ultimate goal is to increase sales and I’d like to attract new customers to my website.
Agency Objective: We can use your blog to help bring new visitors to your website. If the ultimate goal is sales, then we will go after targeted traffic. Quality first, quantity if possible. (this is different than if your client is on a CPM model who strictly is going after eyeballs).
Outlined Plan (3 levels deep)
In this case I would optimize the site to help rank for many more broader keyword phrases than we’ve targeted in the past. Further social strategies will encourage referral traffic from like minded sites. Finally, niche tier II social media will expose your site to potential customers.
Here is the plan one level deep:
SEO –> Content –> Social Strategies –> Blog Promotion using niche social media
Taking it two more level deep it might look something like this:
Select an SEO friendly blog platform (like wordpress) and customize it so that it has the look and feel of the clients site. Add plug ins that will make it easier to do your job.
2) Content – Develop editorial schedule for next 3 months.
2) Determine what Social Strategies you are going to employ.
3) Promote the Blog using Niche Social Media
Make sure all the steps i the plan are mapped out into a process and that the process is communicated to everyone involved.
Forget about what all the experts say. Just ask your client “what would make you consider this a success?” You may have to coach your client to keep it reasonable but this is going to open up a very important dialog.
i.e. You want get more traffic to your site and you want some of it to convert. So we have two objectives here.
Down the line you will want to start looking at how social measures like the comments your posts are generating and the number of RSS subscribers.
I’ll discuss what realistic measures are for your Clients Blog, in part four of this series.
A Blog without Objectives and a Plan is just a Tactic.
By breaking out the steps and assigning accountabilities & time lines to those steps you can take a tactic and turn it into a successful strategy for your client.
Jennifer Osborne writer and marketer for Search Engine People.