ExoBlog’s 10th anniversary – An interview with Lynda St-Arneault

David Lepage – 30 May 2019

ExoB2B’s blog celebrates its 10th anniversary. During the past decade, the company has made it a sustainable platform to share knowledge and new innovations in the world of inter-company marketing. But beyond its informational aspect, ExoB2B’s blog has also proven to be a powerful marketing tool and an effective lead generator.

Lynda St-Arneault, President and founder of ExoB2B, explains the journey that led to the launch of the blog.

Lynda, what motivated you to create the first B2B blog in Quebec? What was the trigger?

At the time (and even today, for that matter), we noticed and became aware of the latest trends in marketing, especially on the American side, where they often seem to be a step ahead of what’s going on.

We obviously saw the blogs multiply and cover a multitude of subjects. But what served as a catalyst in 2009 is when we discovered that some blogs were dealing with marketing (like ClickZ and HubSpot for example).

With what we found and reading a few case studies, we quickly realized that not only was there an interest in these blogs, but also that ExoB2B could contribute in its own way and benefit from it.

Concretely, how did the launch of the blog happen? What obstacles have you encountered?

Oh, it wasn’t easy! There was no procedure or prechewed solution. Yes, Blogger and WordPress existed, but they were light years away from what we know today. Between blogging for fun and blogging professionally based on an inbound marketing strategy (content, SEO and social media, such as HubSpot, who defined it at the time), there was a big step to overcome. It was necessary to innovate and to be inspired by the rise of the most popular blogs. You had to dare.

Remember that in 2009, blogs were not necessarily credible. Barack Obama himself, a progressive and information buff, was issuing a warning on the rise in popularity of blogs! One of my relatives, a computer addict, advised me not to touch this because blogs were only used by geeks and did not report anything concrete.

We were going against the current, with measuring tools that have nothing to do with today’s tools or blogs published on HubSpot. It still allowed us to “launch the inbound machine!”. We then opted for WordPress and measuring tools more adapted to our reality.

How did ExoB2B’s blog stand out from the others?

This was the first B2B marketing blog in Quebec! And bilingual, too! While blogs were more similar to a kind of personal diary, we launched ours with a strategy in mind, and a strong team to put it forward.

Each of our five bloggers had a specialty and a field of expertise their own. Together, they covered what ExoB2B had to offer and, allowed us to approach B2B marketing in depth, in an unusual way and different from others. We created one of the first ambassador-employee program on social networks and the blog: Exotypes.

In addition to that, I think we had an attitude of our own. Our ambition, our desire to improve things and our energy was reflected in our blog posts.

But what has made our blog unique and different is the professionalism and precision of how we deal with topics that challenge the experts in B2B marketing. We offered original content from the very beginning. Our blog is a projection of our expertise.

What about your intentions behind all this? What exactly did you want to get out of it?

Obviously, we wanted to establish our authority in the field, our thought leadership. It was a way for us, both to share our expertise and generate interest in B2B marketing.

Ultimately, we envisioned conversions. We wanted readers to get to know us, develop a better understanding of marketing and, see that ExoB2B is a good partner to support their efforts, to develop better strategies or, to accompany their tactical deployment of these.

How did you manage to keep up with the rhythm over the years, and always have inspiration to feed your blog?

I think, you must first sincerely believe in it. We have published nearly 500 blog posts to date, at a sustained pace and almost double if you consider the English versions as well.

Moreover, we have been able to innovate throughout its 10 years. We have long been talking about the importance of content marketing, the benefits of automation, the potential of AI and the exploitation of big data. In 2015, we even started integrating videos into our blogs – we launched our vlog posts!

We also had to adapt to changes. We went from short blogs to long blogs, finally settling on somewhere in between. One must not only write new content for a market very nestled with few readers in Quebec, but also, stand out in a context of content saturation. While we are busy with client mandates, we need to devote more time to our blogs and videos, to optimize them and meet the “always new” requirements of SEO…

In a way, all these challenges serve as inspiration. The subjects are not lacking! The idea is to sniff out trends, understand what the industry needs, and respond to them as best we can.

What kind of results have you obtained?

Excellent results!

Of course, it’s long-term work whose effects are sometimes measured only years later. But the positive contribution of the blog for our company is undeniable.

In addition to many positive comments received by our readers, I believe we have been able to be recognized as a source of relevant and credible marketing content. Readers recognize the intellectual effort behind each blog and they have a positive perception of our business. The renowned B2B marketing Academy in the United States has even recognized the value of our blog and its “brilliant and provocative” content.

The goal we had to increase our credibility has been achieved!

Also, the campaign on our blog with the marketing influencers was very noticeable last year and added to this credibility. Our strategic mentality and the advanced analyses we put forward have also been noticed. For example, we have been invited to conferences and even been contacted by journalists to discuss B2B marketing.

In terms of profitability, I would say that our blog has generated many leads over the years, many of which have become customers of ExoB2B.

How do you envision the future for blogs?

Video and audio! For video, it’s simple: we see it everywhere. Videos multiply in our news feeds and on all platforms. ExoB2B has already published a few, years ago and, the pace will intensify.

Nor can we ignore the resurgence of podcasts. They were believed to be dead but, on the contrary, more and more are found in marketing blogs and on Quebec platforms such as Baladoquebec and rzo. Even more in the US, where Barack Obama lent himself to the exercise at WTF with Marc Maron podcast.

Barack Obama with Marc Maron

And what about the contribution of artificial intelligence? While waiting for a machine to write our blogs automatically, we will see a growing presence of artificial intelligence in content analysis and automation.

Our blog will obviously reflect this paradigm shift and you can expect even more exciting content and upcoming announcements!

Want to know more on our blog strategy and our own bloggers? Contact us here.

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