Because data center service providers sell to a highly-technical audience, a website that has helpful, educational thought leadership content is more of a necessity than a luxury.
Blogging = The Foundation for SEO and Social Media Done Right
In today’s highly competitive data center marketplace, that pretty much means that your website must have a blog and promote its content on social media.
But it’s not enough to just check off the box and say that you have a blog.
No one ever generated leads, revenue, and profits from their data center blog just by giving their blogging initiative lip service or a half-baked effort.
In a world where 60% to 90% of the buyer’s journey is over before prospects are ready for a sales conversation, what you publish becomes perception – if you want to get found early enough to still matter in today’s modern data center sales cycle.
And frankly embarking on social media publishing or search engine optimization (SEO) without a content strategy that’s centered on your blog almost always leads to self-serving, spammy content that no one wants to read.
So with that in mind, which data center service providers seem to be blogging the best, hitting on most of the widely-accepted content marketing and Inbound marketing best practices?
Here are a few solid examples worth studying.
Clearview International, LLC’s Data Center Blog
Editor's Note: This post was originally written in July 2015. We recently found out that Clearview International's website is offline and have reached out to company management to find out why.
Located as the top choice off of its “Learning” menu in its main website navigation, Clearview International, LLC’s Data Center Blog has the right approach going into blogging. It’s all about educating and helping their prospects and clients learn.
Its blog posts seem to follow many best practices. Catchy Titles with a relevant, long-tail keywords, formatting for skimmers, and a call to action at the end of the blog posts.
That said, there are a few areas that need improvement:
- Blogging post ordering – The posts on the main blog page don’t appear to be in reverse chronological order, the industry standard for most blogging CMS’s.
- Blogging frequency – Although tough to say for sure because the blog home page doesn’t seem to have the posts in reverse chronological order, the most recent post on page 1 of the blog is from September 15, 2014 – over 9 months ago; leading one to wonder if Clearview International has abandoned its blogging initiative. The “Recent Posts” footer, however, leads to a post from just a few days ago. This definitely sends a mixed message.
- Blog post length – While there are no hard and fast rules on minimum or maximum word length for a post, by todays’ standards 300 word posts usually have a hard time getting found in highly competitive industries.
- Call to action contextual appropriateness – With today’s buyer navigating through 60% to 90% of the buyer’s journey before being ready for a sales conversation, Clearview International’s call to action strategy is missing out on awareness stage and consideration stage prospects – and only has a weak call to action for decision stage prospects.
IsoFusion’s Our Blog
Findable directly through a top navigation choice just to the left of its phone number, IsoFusion’s Our Blog has blog posts on the history of the Internet, network security, fiber alternatives, and bandwidth.
The formatting makes it easy for skimmers to dive in. And the blog titles promise something compelling to the reader.
Where could IsoFusion improve?
- Blogging frequency – For the first half of this year, this Seattle-based data center service provider has published just a handful of posts. For companies that want to generate leads from their website, if you’re not blogging at least twice a week, it’s unlikely that a blog will be effective in achieving goals around traffic generation, lead generation, and sales cycle acceleration.
- Long tail keywords – It’s pretty rare that businesses blog just for the sake of blogging. More often than not, data centers want to see some ROI from blogging. However if a blog post doesn’t use a long tail keyword in its Title that’s relevant for its buyer persona and achievable based on its current search engine authority, it’s pretty difficult to get any organic search visibility.
- Images – The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. So it’s an important best practice to include a relevant image with every blog post. When sharing blog posts on social media, such as Twitter or LinkedIn, images are also extremely helpful for driving more visitors.
- Calls to action – It’s great to provide helpful, relevant educational content to readers. But if you want to have your hot prospects raise their hands and self-identify as leads, every blog post should end with a highly-relevant call to action for a premium content offer. For a typical data center blog post, calls to action are usually for white papers, eBooks, planning checklists, or webinar recordings.
TierPoint TalkingPoint Blog
Headquartered in St. Louis, TierPoint has over a dozen data centers throughout the US.
While its TierPoint TalkingPoint Blog isn’t all that prominent in its web navigation, TierPoint is definitely putting some serious effort into blogging.
Its great to see so many different blog authors at TierPoint involved in creating helpful, educational content. Just in the first half of this year, TierPoint had nine different employees contribute to the blog including sales professionals, the CTO, the CSO, and several managers.
This variety is vital because different stakeholders hear such vastly different questions and concerns from prospects and clients that can turn into highly remarkable blog content. At many data center service providers, the marketing department produces nearly 100% of the blog content – limiting the blog to primarily what marketing alone hears from prospects and clients.
Most of the blog titles include a long tail keyword. And a quick skim of the opening paragraphs shows that these long tail keywords are being mentioned early on in the posts, which is another really important best practice.
Where could TierPoint improve on?
- Web hosting control over CMS – The blog footer shows “Blog at WordPress.com.” For a data center service provider as large as TierPoint, it definitely shouldn’t be allowing someone else’s brand to detract from their blog. And most sophisticated blog owners that use WordPress want to control their own web hosting (commonly known as WordPress.org) --- especially a company that’s in the data center industry.
- Missed sidebar opportunities – While the blog sidebar includes sections for categories, tags, and some basic contact information, it’s completely missing opportunities to convert visitors into subscribers, leads, and social media followers.
- Blogging frequency – With nine blog authors and the resources behind TierPoint, the data center service provider should be able to blog at least twice a week.
- Calls to action – The blog posts, while helpful and educational in nature, leave readers dangling at the end of the posts. The more common best practice is to include a call to action for a related premium content offer at the end of each post. So following the post on “Start of Hurricane Season is a Good Reminder to Keep DR in Focus”, perhaps there’s a planning checklist or eBook available for download behind a landing page on XX Ways to Prepare Your Technology Assets for Hurricane Season.
So between Clearview International, IsoFusion, and TierPoint, there are definitely some really solid best practices being followed. But there are also a number of issues that may be standing in the way of getting far better results from each of their blogs.
Which data center service providers seem to really excel at blogging? What do you think that they’re doing right? And what could they improve on? Let us know your take in the Comments below.
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