You are the proud owner of a B2B website, serving as your virtual platform for both your current and future clients. Your homepage and service pages, naturally, serve as the body of your website. However, your blog is a unique place just for customers and leads. Here is your well of inbound marketing content, your newsletter updates, and also any knowledge base you have accumulated through practical content over the months or years that you have been publishing.
If your blog isn't getting the readership or inbound clicks you're looking for, what could you improve? Designing a basic blog is easy. Anyone can upload content to a CMS like HubSpot or WordPress. But designing a blog that is compelling, rewarding to explore, and conversion-inspiring takes a little more design and consideration.
As inbound design experts, we are ready to reveal a few secrets of the craft: how to design a better blog using the HubSpot CMS tools already at your disposal.
Let's elevate your blog design and reader experience to help you convert more B2B leads and delight your current clients.
A blog without a search tool is just a private social media feed with a high word count. Visitors may see the most recent articles and your older articles may show up on outside search tools. However, the blog itself does not offer much educational (or even entertainment) value to readers unless they can search for the topics on which they'd like to read.
A bad search tool is worse than no search tool at all. Readers would rather scroll than see a search results page of ad-results clutter. Be sure to invest in a search tool and the quality of the results page it generates. If your blog shares a search tool with the website (ex: the search bar is available on and can return non-blog pages), then be sure to create a visual separation between the service page results and blog topic results.
Publishing dates: They have become necessary. In fact, publishing dates are one of the best low-key methods to get free backlinks from those who find your articles during their own blogging research. The reason applies to both readers and writers. People need to know just how relevant and recent a blog article's information is. Especially as a B2B brand.
If you write about the supply chain, these details are very relevant to current events. However, business readers are also clever enough to understand that a two-year-old blog on plumbing techniques is still quite relevant. When designing a blog, include publish dates on your blog listing pages and below the title or by-line on the blog itself.
Typography is the category term for making a readable blog using color, font, and a visual hierarchy. We've all seen a website or two that was difficult to look at and nearly impossible to read. This is simply due to the designer's choice of color and font.
Fortunately, clear and appealing typography tends to be the default setting in most CMS platforms. Be sure to pick only one or two fonts that work well together and use them consistently. Make sure you have a clear hierarchy (descending headings) and break up paragraphs into skimmable, sub-headed sections to avoid the "sea of text" discouragement for readers.
Use templates and design guidelines if you plan to get creative with your typography. This way, you can ensure that every page is consistent, aesthetic, and readable.
For every brand, there are a few blog topics that embody what you want your leads and customers to read first. These are best practices and useful knowledge that both showcase your expertise and help to create informed clients and leads who understand your services a little better just by skimming your blog. Use the sticky or pin feature in your CMS to place two to five of your best blogs in the last year at the top of the page.
Are your best blogs older than a year? Have them refreshed, republished, and pin them again.
Let your readers explore your blog by topic instead of by publishing date or by title alone. Use tags and categories to make these blogs easier to sort (and search for). When designing a blog, provide a sidebar where readers can jump from one interesting subject to the next after reading the first blog they land on. Sidebar navigation allows readers to become immersed in your blog. It lets them discover topics they didn't realize interested them by browsing categories and tags.
However, just a sidebar with only dated or recent blogs is far less immersive. Make sure to categorize and encourage exploration.
Another approach to a navigable B2B blog is to transform your blog into a knowledge base or learning center. In this approach, you present your blog as a menu of topics and FAQs and invite your readers to explore, learn, and answer their own questions. Navigation is key in a knowledge base. Users should be able to easily return to the topic selection to seek more answers and insights.
If most of your blogs are informative, explain your product or your industry, and answer FAQs. A knowledge base is a great way to optimize your blog design for the purpose and use of your client and leads.
If readers have loved the blog or blogs they've read, what can they do next? Invite interested blog readers to become regular audience members with a newsletter signup. This is one of many passive lead generation routes that you can embed into your website design. Inviting readers to join the newsletter and get interesting updates on a regular basis will win you emails and a certain amount of lead scoring (ex: the topics each lead reads before signing up) which can be essential to your B2B strategy.
While this estimate is subjective (people read slower or faster), providing an estimate helps a reader understand how deep the post will go. It also helps identify whether or not your content efforts are more “fluff” or “authoritative”. Not saying that only short posts are “fluff”, but from a user’s view, the longer an article will take to read, the thought is the more information there is about the subject.
If a reader on your B2B blog reaches the end and wants more, one of the best ways to keep them engaged is a What to Read Next section with a few other similar-topic blogs below your CTA. You can do this with a HubSpot dynamic content table or similar features on other CMS platforms. The dynamic content table allows you to present a slightly randomized selection of preview content for other blogs and pages from a table you build. This makes it easy to present slightly different suggestions below each blog from a list of favored or popular topics.
Last but never least, when designing a blog, put some effort into your Calls to Action, or CTAs. A call to action is how every blog should sign off. It tells the reader that if they liked your content, they can find more or the mentioned services therein by following a link, booking a demo, or browsing your online store. Include a link, point to a widget, or provide some direction on offline actions to take.
Now here's the trade secret: Write a unique CTA for every blog. Don't just copy-paste your "If you liked this, call us" tagline. Consider the transition from the content to the call to action in a way that feels natural. Try to give it that inspirational push that makes readers feel empowered to take action based on what they've learned.
Your B2B blog deserves an excellent visual and experiential design. These best practices for designing a blog embody the latest top methods for engaging B2B readers, winning their trust, and inspiring the next stage of conversion through reading your blogs.
Whether your readers are first-time leads from inbound marketing success or returning customers skimming the updates, Inbound Design Partners is here to help you build the HubSpot CMS blog that your B2B business and customers both deserve. Let us elevate your blog design for a better reader experience and conversion results.