You’ve read my last post and decided to go ahead and start a company blog in English, but before you do, there are some basic questions to answer. Don’t even begin to think about what you’ll write or how the blog will look until you’ve sat with your team and come up with the answers to these questions.
Some of these will echo the questions you would ask if you were writing the blog for your German audience, but some of them will take a bit more thought and care to get right for a company blog in English.
Who is your Target Audience?
You’ve probably already done work on identifying your target audience*. For your international audience, you have some extra work to do. The image below is an example of a poorly targeted marketing campaign.
Marks and Spencer is a UK department store. Some of you may remember that M&S (as they are known) opened stores in some German cities some time ago. Sadly for us Brits in Germany, they didn’t survive the financial crisis, and the last store closed in 2001. M&S still have an EU website and sell directly to Germany. I’m signed up to receive their regular newsletter, and this was one that dropped into my inbox late last summer.
My German readers will have spotted the issue. Kids here don’t wear school uniforms. There may be a couple of private schools that do have uniforms, but I doubt you can buy their clothing in Marks and Spencer! The target audience for this marketing campaign was almost non-existent. It’s incredibly unusual for a company of this size to make such a mistake.
*If you are not familiar with the concept of Target Audiences in marketing, then you need to start there before you go any further.
What is your USP?
You know WHO you are writing for, but do you know WHY? What will be your blog focus? What benefit will you bring your reader? Why would they click on your blog posts and return every time you add a new post?
I’ll admit – I struggled a bit with this when I started this blog. There are hundreds of blogs about copywriting, marketing and blogging, and countless blogs about business and social media. What could I offer that was truly unique? I considered writing about life in Germany, but that is more interesting for non-Germans and less so for my target audience
Then I thought about my target audience, and what would bring them value. My target audience is German-speaking professionals who seek success in international business. The value I can offer my readers is an insight into how to succeed in this challenging environment, including :
- English content creation for Marketing professionals
- Storytelling and international employer branding for HR professionals
- Cross-cultural understanding and language skills
- Building an global personal brand via storytelling and thought-leadership
My blog informs, supports and entertains German-speaking professionals while helping them succeed in English-speaking markets.
Every time I plan a blog post, I ask myself, “Could this blog post be published on any generic marketing or business blog?” If the answer is “yes”, then I don’t write it.
What is your International Company Voice?
And does it fit your target audience? In Germany, we have the choice of ‘du’ or ‘sie’, and so you’ll have already decided on your German company voice. Will your international company voice follow that pattern? If you are ‘per du’ with your German customers, you’ll probably want to go down a similar, more informal route with your English speaking customers.
If you go for a more informal tone, be very cautious with swearwords as they are generally seen as somewhat inappropriate even in a more casual business tone.
One thing that I always notice on German websites is heavy use of the following words: therefore, thereafter, forthwith, thus, hence. There is nothing wrong with these words, but they are rather formal and old-fashioned. I like to avoid them if possible.
What is your Expected ROI?
Before you start your company blog in English, ask yourself what would be a good outcome. What would you consider a success? And how will you measure success?
Do you want to attract new customers via google search to your blog and your website? Do you want to generate more leads? Do you want to impress prospects with your insights and expertise in your specific topic? Do you want to inform current and potential customers of features and benefits of your products? Or perhaps you want to showcase new developments and increase customer loyalty.
According to InsideView, B2B businesses that blog achieve 67% more monthly leads than those that do not.
Whatever reason you have for starting a blog, make sure it’s clear to everyone working on the project and check back in regularly to see how you are doing. Remember that you’ll have to give it a bit of time. Generally, you’ll need between 6 and 12 months before you start to see a ROI from content marketing.
What are the Technical Requirements?
The technical requirements don’t change much depending on whether you are creating a company blog in English or German, but I’m putting it on the list to get you thinking about it. Is there anything that would make a difference to your target audience?
Maybe your target audience is quite young and more likely to view your blog on their phone – in which case you’d be wise to go for a mobile-first strategy.
Do you need extra blogging software or can the blog be integrated easily into your existing website?
What is your SEO Strategy?
If you are hoping to attract customers to your website, have your SEO strategy in place before you start your company blog, not as an afterthought. You probably already have a site up and running, and have done some work on SEO already. If you haven’t, it’s time to start!
Here’s something that you may not have covered yet: How will a multi-lingual site affect your SEO? Get an SEO expert in to help you with this, if you don’t have this experience in house.
What Resources are you Willing to Commit?
How much time are you willing to commit to this project, and how much can you do internally?
When you consider the resources required, think about the time you are taking from other campaigns and projects and the skills that you already have in your marketing team. It’s often more efficient to outsource a specific task to an expert than have someone on your team take the time to learn the skills required.
Typical areas that are more efficient to outsource is SEO and of course copywriting, particularly if you don’t have an English native speaker on your team. Luckily, you already know a dazzling English native speaker copywriter 🙂
Now you’ve done the work of assessing what you need to do before you start a company blog in English, we can move on to the enjoyable part. The content.
What will you write about, and how will you make it interesting for your readers? Come back soon for the next post in the series on how to start an English blog on your company website.