The blog is a curious beast. Perhaps at the true peak of its social popularity at the beginning of the decade, blogging is viewed by some as irrelevant in today’s digital marketing environment. However, if we look a little closer; a blog is ultimately one of the most important ways for a business owner to showcase their business and develop an intricate connection with their customers. A static and faceless platform is essentially an online brochure – a virtual blank canvas that does little to entice the consumer into investing in what you have to offer. In the current digital climate, where engagement is almost viewed as a necessity, blogs can provide a practical and dynamic way to market your business online.
I’m not a big believer in regurgitating pointless statistics in a bid to hammer a point home, but for the unassuming business owner, these blogging statistics almost speak for themselves:
- 23% of time spent online is spent viewing blogs and social networks.
- 77% of users actively read blogs when they venture online.
- Small businesses with current and active blogs generate 126% more leads compared to those without.
- 61% of consumers questioned admitted that they had made a purchase after reading a blog post.
- 70% of those questioned prefer to gain insight into a company via self-published content rather than being bombarded with intrusive online ads.
Are you still a little apprehensive about the power and benefits of blogging? Think about this hypothesis: You’re the owner of a local business – consider what happens when a prospective customer finds your website thanks to a fateful Google search. Upon entering the site, they are greeted by a stagnant website that offers limited information about the business and what you can offer them. On face value, which is often enough time to influence decisions, there is very little that sets you apart from a no doubt, bustling list of nearby competitors.
Now, consider what happens when that same prospective customer refers back to their initial search and chooses to visit a competitor’s site. Their site offers the basics in the same way you do, but they are also greeted by a link to a company blog, where they discover a wealth of additional personality-driven textual and visual content. A 5-minute browsing session allows them to gain a deeper understanding of what the competitor can offer them, their core values and the blog will also present them with the opportunity to engage with the company and spark the conversation that could potentially lead to a conversion that you could have been considered for.
If you believe you’re ready to delve into the world of blogging, you’ll need to speak to your existing provider, or research another, in order to establish whether or not your current platform will allow you to branch out into blogging. If not, there are a number of external options available to you, with WordPress providing perhaps the most reputable blogging solution on the market. You should seek help if you’re unsure how to proceed from here, as a blog set up under a different domain from your main website won’t benefit from any increased traffic and will only cause unnecessary confusion for your existing customer base.
From here, you must ensure that you are happy with your decision, committed to making the leap and that you understand your goals and aspirations for the future of the blog. It is incredibly important to know exactly what you want to accomplish and how you’ll eventually measure any success. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what you would like to achieve from publishing content, you will end up disappointed in both your published output, and the insightful data that stems from it.
Housing a blog on your site doesn’t have to be an all-consuming feature, but it will require an element of patience and planning. To keep your existing audience engaged and to begin targeting prospective customers, you will need to offer up dynamic content twice a week, on average. The content should be of inherent interest to your audience and it should make them want to come back for more after each piece is published. If you proceed without assured knowledge of your ideal customer or follower, there is a strong chance your content is going to be bland, indirect and inoffensive. If you take the time to pinpoint your ideal demographic, you will be able to create content that will communicate your message far more effectively.
You should also ensure that you can frequently take the time to research and identify new topics within your industry or realm of interests (and those shared by your audience) and vary the content on your blog based on these topics. As a rule of thumb, and regardless of your industry or set-up, you should consider providing the latest news from the business itself, helpful tips, wider industry news, customer testimonials, visual content, informative how-to guides and commentary that offers a fresh perspective on relevant discussions. Ultimately, your blog should reflect your brand’s values and beliefs and showcase your flare and personality.
Schedule and promote
Consistency and promotion are perhaps, two of the most fundamental aspects of blogging. Consistency first, you should be looking to establish a set blogging schedule, with regular posts published at set times. If you are already using an analytics platform to gather data about your customers, you should examine the time at which your site is receiving the most traffic, and then adjust your content schedule accordingly.
Remember, you don’t have to push out content and updates on a daily basis – you can leave that level of interactivity to your wider social media output. After all, blogging is an intensive investment, and it will take up some of your time, so don’t rush content out for the sake of sheer visibility. However, it is important to maintain a level of regularity, in order to help you retain your existing audience and gain new followers. A consistent output will also help in meeting expectations and establish an element of trust between your brand and your customers. These relationships are invaluable and can be very difficult to re-establish so proceed with care, attention and respect for your audience if you wish to maintain the crucial link.
Blogging should also be at the heart of your wider ongoing content strategy. Have you yet to take your business social? Check out our guide to establishing the appropriate network(s) for your business here. Each time you publish a new blog post, you should be looking to share the title, an interesting quote or visual aid from the piece and a link to the blog post across your existing social networks. Providing your follower count is at a reasonable level and you’re willing to put in the time and effort required, your followers will hopefully then share the content and effectively drive traffic to your site for you. Opportunities like this don’t occur online very often, so grab this one with both hands and capitalise on the current digital marketing techniques now.
Sharing your published blog content on social media is something that requires a little bit of trial and error, particularly if the concept is new to you. As with many things in life, sometimes it is best to approach the situation with care. Don’t be afraid to play things safe to begin with – it is worth taking the time to establish which approach works best for you and for your followers. If you follow this plan of attack, you should be able to build sustainable traffic from social media to your blog, and over time you’ll learn how to adapt your strategy to fit your unique goals and desires.
From a practical standpoint, and for those looking to get ahead in this ever-changing digital landscape: blogging for business simply makes sense. Despite hesitance from some, blogging continues to represent one of digital marketing’s core techniques, and with a little extra effort and very little expense, you can build and cater for an audience unlike ever before, boost your credibility within your industry, boost search engine rankings, increase website traffic, and match or out-do your competitor’s online efforts. These benefits are too great for any adapting SMB to pass on. Is blogging right for your business? The answer is almost certainly; a resounding yes.