Over 600 million blogs exist, the vast majority serving some business purpose. 80% of Internet users regularly interact with them, so it's no surprise companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don't. In fact, marketers who consider blogging a top priority have 13X higher ROI than their peers. But this isn't automatic! Your B2B blog post outline matters.
Why Is a Blog Post Outline Important?
Your blog post outline ensures you're building a blog that earns conversions, generates leads, and pulls its weight within your B2B content marketing strategy plan. Outlining adds efficiency to the blogging process—maximizing success and developing scalable blog writing methods as you grow.
This goal-driven thinking is the primary difference between B2B content marketing and casual blogging.
1. Develop a Working Title or Headline
Start with a title that generally describes the topic rather than trying to nail it. After you write your outline and expand on your idea, you may decide to take a different headline approach.
Save yourself time by not over-investing brain power on this at the beginning of the blog post outline process.
2. Conduct Keyword Research
50% of marketing professionals say tracking keyword ranking is one of the top metrics of search engine optimization (SEO) success. Ranking for relevant keywords tangibly represents your visibility in the search results. That directly affects your ability to generate leads from it.
But keyword research reveals a lot more during the blog post outline process:
- How your audience searches for related topics and what they want to know about it
- How others are covering the topic and sub-topics
- Which competitors did well and what they did
How do you improve upon what's already out there to drive more traffic to your site and increase your search ranking simultaneously?
During keyword research, you'll likely identify the best resources, inspirations, and directions to take your article, so this doubles as topic research.
Make a list of these resources for both creating your blog post outline and writing it. Now, you'll save more time while also creating an article that does its part on a lead generation website.
3. Approximate the Length
This length will determine how many sections you can cover and how long each can be. It will ensure you can flesh out each point to be useful to your B2B audience. By doing so, you can create a post that generates traffic and increases conversions.
When choosing a length, consider how:
- Much you need to cover
- Long your search competitor articles are
- It fits into your inbound marketing strategy
4. Gather Stats, Facts, and Quotes
In B2B blogging, accuracy and authority are everything. Depending on your topic, it's important to provide supporting third-party information and/or first-party data.
These not only back up your points. They also make for a more dynamic and interesting read. As a bonus, you can turn them into images, infographics, and quick shareable insights.
This enhances the B2B audience's user experience. It keeps them engaged on the lead generation website longer to increase conversions.
5. Add and Refine Takeaways
Remember: Keyword research tells you what subtopics your audience wants to know about. Start organizing those into sections.
Now, you may be unable to cover every one of them at the length you've decided. That's okay! You may have multiple blog post ideas here. For efficiency, keep those ideas organized for another post.
This leads you to:
- Scrap some that don't add value or less
- Combine to save space and reduce fluff
- Expand as needed
It's all part of the blog post outline process.
Under each takeaway, add bullets for the ideas you want to make sure you cover in that section and important reference links you may need there.
Don't forget to include internal links you can add to some of the sections. These are both useful to your B2B audience and smart SEO practice.
Depending on the complexity, some of these bullet points may become a subheading (H3s). But for now, you're clarifying where you want to take this blog post.
6. Write Your H2 Headings
H2 headings are critical to a B2B blog post's ability to meet its conversion goals within your inbound marketing strategy. 43% of people admit that they skim blog posts rather than reading them.
Revisit your keyword research. What did it tell you about how people search for the subtopics you're covering in this blog post? Your headings should reflect these keywords and ideas in the fewest words possible.
7. Establish Your Headline
At this point, you have a solid direction and workable blog post outline. Given the research you've put into this already, you should start to see the shape of what a finished blog post will look like.
So it's time to revisit that headline. How can you sum all of this up? Keep in mind: This is the first thing people see and maybe the last.
Your title should be:
- 60 characters or fewer
- Align with both search intent and what the post is about
- Inspire people to click and share
- Promote brand awareness, relevance, timeliness, trust, and authority
8. Craft Your Metas
Your meta title (sometimes called SEO title) and meta description are important search tools. Searchers will see them when Google displays your website in the search results. They need to be clear, relevant to the search, and click-worthy.
A title is up to 60 characters (including spaces). It includes the blog title and may also include your brand name at the end. You should test it to make sure you're not cutting characters off.
A description should generally be 155 characters or fewer. It holds the attention of the searcher, is clear about the page topic, and has a CTA to encourage them to click on the website.
9. Write an Introduction
Your intro is a quick hook that draws the reader into the topic. Think of it as your initial sales pitch. Get it right, and the person will listen to what you have to say.
Consider where this person is on the buyer's journey. Have they just become aware of the problem? Are they exploring possible solutions? What pain points and goals do they have? Let your buyer persona guide how you connect in the intro.
Most inbound marketing agencies use blog posts to generate awareness they can convert to a lead. So, as a rule of thumb, your intro presents the problem.
Many blog post writers write the introduction last. This can save rewrites and increase its power of persuasion. However, since you've already written the blog post outline, you know precisely how to draw people in. You should have all the information you need to create a stellar opening.
10. Form Your Conclusion
Make your conclusion short and to the point. Don't introduce new ideas. Focus on the takeaways. This is not the time to talk at length about what you do.
The conclusion's job within your inbound marketing plan is to generate a lead. Any inbound marketing agency will tell you, "less is more". Too much "me" focus in a B2B lead-generating blog can undo the trust your post just built and impact your conversion rate negatively.
11. Use the Blog Post Outline to Write the Body
The body of your blog is where the reader finds the answers to their questions and the solutions to their problems. Since you've created an outline, you're in a position to quickly and systematically discuss the topic.
Keep in mind that every word you write should focus on helping the target audience explore solutions rather than selling. Build trust and interest to keep them engaged with the post to the end. This is how to write a blog people will actually read.
12. Choose Your Featured Image
A featured image appears in several key locations:
- At the top of your blog post
- On the main blog page, as your prospect is deciding what to read next
- On the social media feed when you share
- In an email you send to subscribers.
People process a visual within milliseconds, while it may take a second or more for someone to process a 10-word title. In a busy setting like social media or email, lightning-speed processing can be the difference between scrolling on by or taking 2-3 seconds to read the title.
Bottom line: It needs to earn clicks and is inarguably as crucial as the headline itself.
Your featured image should relate to the post topic but doesn't have to be too literal. You can take several approaches to get attention, such as:
13. Turn Your Outline into a Blog Post Template
Consider the similarities among the blog post outlines you're writing. Do winning blogs follow a particular formula? How do they align with the expectations and intent of the audience to keep them engaged?
As you write more blog post outlines, the patterns will become clearer. You can create a blog post template that will save you time during the blog post outline phase while creating more engaging, higher-converting blog posts.
14. Add Your Call to Action
As a lead generation blog post, your post needs a CTA, or Call to Action. Tie the CTA into the blog topic, so it feels like a natural progression for the reader.
The Call to Action offers the reader something of value to them like a case study, template, or other downloadable. Within an inbound marketing strategy, they click it. They then go to a short, low-friction form that asks for their email address to download.
You've just generated a lead. Respect this transaction by protecting this person's privacy and only sending relevant information to their inbox at a reasonable frequency.
Always put helpfulness first to keep this lead subscribed. Here's where they can get to know you and what you offer; many will become your customers.
Lead Generation Begins with Content Marketing
At LAIRE, we know that a solid content marketing strategy can help you attract and convert the right audience on your website. Content generates leads! But in order to do this, you need to prepare in the right way. Before writing your next blog post, consider implementing the tips provided in this blog to help you outline your content successfully. If you’re looking for additional ways to easily and efficiently write blog posts that convert, try these engagement-winning blog post templates.