Out of all of the tools marketers have at their disposal, corporate blog posts have remained one of the best performing in the digital space, effectively bringing in leads and establishing brands as thought leaders in their industries.

And the data backs it up: 60 percent of marketers surveyed in HubSpot’s State of Inbound report said that blog content creation is one of their organization’s top marketing priorities.

With company blogs being such a focal point of building brand awareness and establishing industry expertise, it’s imperative that marketers get it right when it comes to creating and publishing content.

So, how can they do this?

Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., chancellor professor of marketing and director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth, said that corporate blogs should serve as a direct extension of a company and be a strong part of its overall image. 

“Blogs humanize companies, provide opportunities for engagement and help establish thought leadership,” she noted. “They are free from the restrictions of platforms that host them and serve as an authentic image of a corporate entity.”

Corporate blogging professional and Founding Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research John Cass explained that businesses should aim to create content that makes everyday topics exciting for readers in a writing style that demonstrates expertise while still telling a story.

“Blogs need to have a theme, a voice and especially stories that develop over time,” he said. “It helps if there is engagement, where it’s not just the writer talking to themselves but there’s a discussion.”

Below, we’ve highlighted four examples of successful corporate blogs that stood out from the pack in 2016 and which features, elements and methods helped them shine in the spotlight. For brands looking to improve their blogging efforts, following these strategies can bring in stellar results.

1. Quirky fun with Dollar Shave Club’s blog

It’s hard to think of shaving – or anything bathroom-related –  as fun. But on Dollar Shave Club’s company blog, the brand creates content that displays a sense of humor while also providing practical information about men’s shaving and other bathroom habits. This gives it a more conversational, informal personality, allowing it to connect with its potential and current customers on topics that may not necessarily be engaging or amusing.

Barnes stated that Dollar Shave Club’s best feature is its distinctly “uncorporate” feel. By taking on a fun and friendly tone in its blog posts, the business is able to successfully discuss bathroom habits openly in a way that maintains a lightheartedness and makes readers feel like a buddy, rather than just a customer.

“Dollar Shave Club is a great blog,” she explained. “I love the innovation and their sense of humor. They make their product offering clear and concise.”

Dollar Shave Club knows its audience's state of mind when they seek out this blog.

2. HubSpot stays ahead of the curve

HubSpot is one of the leading companies within the marketing industry, so it would make sense that its blog follows suit. The brand’s content utilizes many best practices that keep readers constantly coming back for more.

Cass said that HubSpot’s company blog makes the topic and application of inbound marketing readily available and easily digestible for the brand’s customers and leads. It also serves as an excellent example of how a company can use its blog to effectively promote its products and services, without being overly pushy or assertive. Readers leave feeling as though they’ve learned something instead of being sold to.

“Readers should feel as though they’ve learned something from a blog instead of being sold to.”

HubSpot is one of Barnes’ favorite corporate blogs, as its main goal is to provide relevant and valuable information for marketers, sometimes before readers even know they want or need it.

HubSpot never fails to provide a solution to any problem marketers may have.

“They blog offering wonderful, free help like easy infographics via PowerPoint templates,” she stated. “They are chock full of all information in marketing that is timely and useful. The company is generous with its advice and always offers valuable insights to common problems.”  

3. Wistia excels with expertise

Much like HubSpot, Wistia takes what it knows and effectively shares it with the world. The online video hosting and analytics company posts content that educates, informs and engages its readers on everything they’d want to learn about video marketing.

Wisti's advice posts establish their expertise and willingness to help their clients.

 

Barnes stated that providing a wealth of information, from how to hire a videographer to tips for creating engaging animations to new video product reviews, is what makes Wistia’s blog so successful. If customers have purchased the service, then offering expertise, tips and how-to’s on various video-related topics only keeps them coming back to learn how they can enhance what they are creating with Wistia.

The brand also ensures that commenters on its blog are treated with respect, explained Barnes. This helps readers feel as though they are contributing to the conversation and sharing ideas instead of just reading through the information.

“Wistia has and shares its code of conduct with its stakeholders,” she said. “The blog follows the simple rules of ‘be kind, be friendly, be inclusive and professional, and take care of others.'”

4. General Electric Reports makes an impact

General Electric’s blog, GE Reports, reflects the company’s wide reach: Articles range from the latest virtual reality news to infrastructure in Myanmar to new cancer screening technology.

GE Reports offers insight into a world of interesting and relevant topics.

The blog is helping GE change into a digital corporation as its products continue to evolve, Cass explained. Its articles provide readers with answers to questions about today’s biggest issues and expand upon them, allowing GE to serve as a thought leader and innovator.

“General Electric’s brand is old manufacturing, but all that is changing,” he stated. “The company is becoming digital. GE Reports provides great content on the next ideas and around the industrial internet of things and beyond.”

Barnes said that GE Reports stands out for its successful thought leadership articles. The company is not afraid to tackle the biggest issues of our time on its blog and therefore makes a strong impact on readers while establishing itself as an ultimate authority in its industry.

To rank among top blogs, brands need to focus on using their blogs to provide information, engage readers and establish trust. Company blogs will continue to be an integral part of a successful marketing strategy, so marketers must ensure they are incorporating these effective and successful strategies into their blogs into 2017.

 

A very special thank you to our guests, Nora Barnes and John Cass, for their thoughts and expertise for this article.

Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Marketing Research and chancellor professor at the University of Dartmouth. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Inc. Magazine, CNN and various other news outlets for her work on social media adoption. She has worked as a marketing consultant for many organizations, including Thomson Reuters, the National Pharmaceutical Council and the Board of Inquiry of the British Parliament.

John Cass has worked in the digital marketing industry for over 20 years, and has been responsible for directing and managing content marketing and social media campaigns for website, online communities and blogs. His book, “Strategies and Tools for Corporate Blogging,” was published in 2007.

Check out our other top picks in Brafton’s 2016 12 days of content.

Tressa Sloane is the Sr. Manager of Editorial Development in Boston. Born a Southern belle, she now resides in the chilly (but wicked awesome) Northeast, and when she's not learning everything she can about content marketing, she's obsessing over Elvis, Auburn football and France.