We’ve all heard about the ways that blogging can help your business. Many articles and examples present a general business strategy, but that’s not helping, is it?
One thing is for certain:
The LinkedIn publishing platform is great. Guest posting (on quality sites) can be a nice boost in referral traffic. Even contributing to forums and online communities can help demonstrate your expertise. Why not bring all of that value back to your own site and create a funnel of inbound traffic to your products and services?
How to Determine If Blogging Is Right for You
I’m going to make the assumption that if you’re reading this, your business has an existing website of some form. I will also make the assumption that you are not currently blogging or that you are struggling with your blogging strategy.
According to the National Small Business Association 2013 Survey (pdf version) 82% of all businesses report having some sort of online presence. That means 82% of businesses understand the importance of being accessible online.
But it doesn’t stop there, you’ve got to be able to answer some important questions.
What Is the Goal of Your Website?
Before you can tackle the issue of blogging it is important to understand the purpose of your website. Websites often serve as a place to host information online (hours of operation, contact info, etc). There is nothing wrong with this model, not every business can afford a feature-rich website.
Does your website exist to drive sales, build awareness or generate leads?
Does your website exist to drive sales, build awareness, or generate leads? This is a simple, yet important, question that many haven’t asked (or answered) in quite some time. Every element of your marketing campaigns should have a direct, trackable goal.
If you created a website because you “need to be online” it’s time to determine exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
Is Your Current Website Generating Sales?
One of the biggest values in digital marketing is the ability to accurately measure traffic, leads, and sales from point A to point B. Traditional marketing leaves much of these metrics to estimation. With that in mind it is important to understand how your website can generate sales for your company.
Direct Sales through E-Commerce
The more obvious method of sales is, of course, selling products directly through your website. When a business sells products or services online, web traffic leads to profit.
These brands must also compete with some of the giants in online retail like Amazon. A good, targeted blog and content strategy gives the smaller shops a chance to compete.
Indirect Sales through Lead Generation and Brand Awareness
Even when you don’t sell products or services online, your website can generate leads. This is when brand and product education become pivotal. Many customers will look to the web first before making purchase decisions.
Think of the last time you bought a car, did you research online first?
When the goal is not direct sales it is important to produce good, helpful content that will capture buyer interest. You can also capture leads that assist with sales through newsletter sign ups, landing pages, and quote requests.
Is Your Content Shareable?
We’ve all heard the SEO benefits of well-planned and well-written content. Writers can cater content around specific subject matter and optimize for a group of keywords. But this is just the beginning.
Good, valuable content will influence visitors and readers to share with others. Word of mouth is, and always has been, one of the most trustworthy sources of information.
If you have yet to create a blog, audit your content or ask somebody to browse your website and provide feedback.
Are any of your existing pages or website parts thought-provoking? Does anything evoke emotion? Simple, clear product and information pages may not be enough to generate user amplification. When developing a blog strategy, content should target both current users and prospective audience. Strategic blogging will generate social shares, improve SEO, and lead to new visitors.
Are You Using Social Media?
A good social media strategy includes sharing relevant, engaging content with your followers. If you aren’t producing your own content, sharing existing content is the next step. Sharing content from other sources establishes trust. It shows that you’re willing to educate regardless of the source.
But what if you could also educate your audience and bring that value by mixing in some of your own content?
You won’t generate engagement by sharing product pages and static information. It’s important to understand your audience and cater to their interests. Create a content strategy focused on satisfying consumers and you’ll likely find success. Social media analytics and listening are a great way to drive content strategy and in turn, grow your audience.
Is Your Audience (Existing and Potential) Educated?
Many business owners have a tendency to overestimate awareness of their offering. This is often a bias created by being close to a product for too long. It is important to step back and put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer that has never heard of you. For many, a simple 5-page website is enough to communicate the type of business or product you provide.
Education around Your Products
Consumer education is at an all-time high and continues to rise. With the abundance of resources available to shoppers it becomes increasingly important to educate potential customers on the value of your product. Descriptive product pages with high quality photos are great. But, why not take things a step further?
Tell a Story about Your Product
Blogging provides brands with a storytelling platform. While blog content should remain consistent with the current company mission, the voice of posts and articles often has a conversational tone. Blogs are a great place to provide insight into the story behind your products and services.
Turn instances of customer satisfaction into longer pieces to communicate the human element. What sounds more interesting to you? A list of product features and benefits or a story about the way that your product improved a customer’s life?
We’re creating, providing and selling to humans, so why aren’t we marketing to humans?
Tell the Story of Your Brand
If I had to guess, 98% of all business websites include an about page. They are a necessary (but often uninteresting) page describing the history of the business and maybe a brief introduction to the c-suite or founding partners. A blog is a great place to dig deeper.
Many businesses have a rich history that can’t be communicated in a single page. Instead of rambling on in the about section, create a blog series sharing the interesting story of your company.
What If Your Business Isn’t Interesting?
A common reason that brands and business owners pass on the opportunity to start blogging is the excuse that they don’t work in a “sexy industry”. That is the wrong mindset to get stuck in. Think about it this way:
Does your business have customers?
That means people find your products or services interesting!
It’s as simple as that. The overwhelming number of internet users can get us off track. The point of a blog is not to attract every user on the web. The point of a blog is to capture the attention of viewers that are or may become interested in your products. It is to provide additional value and to educate your customers. Just because your 15-year-old nephew thinks your business is boring, it doesn’t mean that your customers do.
Change the voice of your blog, cater to your target market and you’ll be amazed at how engaged your website visitors become!
Taking Things Further
Hopefully I’ve presented some compelling arguments towards creating a blog strategy for your company. This is only the beginning. Blogging and writing for business creates countless opportunities for growth.
If you stay true to your company’s mission and write for your audience instead of at them, then results will follow. It’s time to use this increased exposure to your advantage.
As a continuation of this series, stay tuned for our next topics:
- Promote Your Content – Publishing Is Just the First Step
- Growth and Content Strategy from Google Analytics
- Build and Nurture a Community around Your Web Content
- Use Blogging to Dominate Your Competition