Blogging for business remains one of the most misunderstood marketing concepts. Many do it. Few do it well. Even more avoid it.
Often, I find that clients view their business blog like a personal journal. They think of blogging as an outlet for their viewpoint, not a mechanism for generating leads. They write about topics that interest them or personal events. Then, they lose interest over time because the posts generate few views and even less profit. It seems irrelevant to their business. And with they way they blog, it kind of is.
Business blogs are not personal blogs!
Blogging can contribute to revenue if you integrate it as part of your marketing initiatives. That means you need to hold it to the same standard as any other marketing medium. Then, you can set goals and measure results. This makes blogging for business worth your time.
Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth compared to similar businesses without blogs. This comes from an increase in website traffic. With that traffic, your conversion funnel has a larger flow starting at the top.
Additionally, helps you reach all those intangible marketing goals like brand engagement, awareness, and trust. This comes from a robust blogging plan that integrates with your marketing initiatives. Below are 5 marketing initiatives that benefit from blogging.
1. Content Marketing
The worst content marketing promotes the brand directly.
Defined by the creation and sharing of online material that stimulates interest, content marketing relies heavily on blog posts. The worst content marketing promotes the brand directly. Instead, the strategy should offer media related to the target market’s needs. The tone can be educational, emotional or entertaining. The media types can include graphics, videos, quizzes, blogs and more.
The key to content marketing? Original content. For blogging specifically, niche posts offer the most value for both the short and long-term. When your business sticks to maintaining a solid content calendar, your audience will start to anticipate your content. Then, they see you as a source for information. You become a thought leader in your industry.
How to Develop a Content Marketing Plan
- Set a goal for your plan. Something as simple as increasing website traffic is a great place to start. Or you could consider trying to boost your SEO ranking.
- Identify your audience. This can be as simple as noting the key characteristics of your customer, client or donor.
- Review your existing content. See what pages and posts get the most traffic.
- Make a list of topics. Base these on the information your audience seeks most.
- Pick the best medium for your topic. This can be an e-book, graphic, video or a blog post.
Often, businesses actually have materials on hand (sometimes in print collateral, FAQ sheets or employee manuals) that can create a starting point for a content marketing plan. You just need someone who can take the dry concepts and infuse your brand’s story.
2. Inbound Marketing
People use the internet as their teacher, adviser and non-judgmental friend.
Everyone talks about inbound marketing. Few realize that it takes long-term commitment. As a strategy, inbound marketing focuses on attracting leads through original online content. Usually, the content informs or educates prospective customers during their decision-making process. In fact, about 48% of marketers support the customer’s journey with specialized content.
The main way that people find this information? Search engines.
To date, 92% of Americans use search engines to find information on the web. They’re usually trying to find answers or solve problems. That’s why “How To” articles are one of the most popular types of blog posts. People use the internet as their teacher, adviser and non-judgmental friend.
So, when someone talks about search engine optimization (SEO) they typically include blogging as one of the many inbound marketing tactics.
How Blogging Helps Inbound Marketing
- Blogging creates traffic…
- …Traffic turns into leads…
- …Leads become customers
If you can imagine your customer’s pain point then, you can probably pick a title for a blog post. For example, if you sell orchids you might write a post about “How to Care for Orchids.” When an orchid enthusiast searches about caring for these plants, they’ll find your post among the search results. This brings them to your website and positions you as a helpful authority.
On an expert level, this process includes keyword research, uncovering trends, and data mining. With time, this creates a host of rich information that attracts prospective customers.
That magnetic effect is the crux of the inbound marketing process. So, solid blogs are the backbone for your inbound marketing content. However, some organizations struggle to produce and maintain all that content. So, they expand their resources by outsourcing the creative to a vendor who can produce quality, original content for their business.
3. Social Media Marketing
As the blog post is developed, the share-ability of the post should be considered.
Everyone can make a Facebook business page, record a Snap or send out a tweet. However, fledgling businesses can struggle to both find their audience and convert that audience into customers. Like both of the strategies above, there are few shortcuts.
In fact, buying followers or trapping them with contests is becoming less and less effective. As most platforms tweak their algorithms and policies to prioritize a quality user experience, these strategies are positioned to take a nosedive. Furthermore, the hype of a high yet, un-engaged follower base doesn’t translate to healthy sales. Adweek points out that the quality of social media followers matter more than the quantity. Instead, attracting followers with a high “intent to buy” matters more than a high number of “likes”.
Therefore, social media strategies should focus on niche, newsworthy content. Think helpful articles or guides versus memes begging for “shares”. Currently, 1 in 4 Americans get their news from social media, according to Pew Research Center. This news-worthiness mindset moves your posts from hot air and self-promotion to something that actually informs your customers.
So, blogs become an integral part of your social media calendar. You need to create original, sharable content. Photos, videos, graphics or post previews need to attract attention and tease a click. So, you need someone who is capable of creating content based on transmedia storytelling principles to maximize your efforts.
To make this work, each blog-based social post must include:
- An eye-catching, yet accurate title
- Solid preview text
- Related Media (photos, graphics or video)
Business blogging starts with a social media promotion plan in mind. As the blog post is developed, the share-ability of the post is considered. Sometimes, the format of the post will be tweaked to ensure it will preview well and lead to website clicks.
4. Event Marketing
When an audience is interested in a blog topic, the related event is a natural fit.
In the clutter of ads, events disrupt. And events can be defined quite liberally to anything time-sensitive and worthy of buzz. Recently, Forbes emphasized the value of buzz acquired from planning an event relevant to your business. You start by thinking about your audience and their interests. Then, you can base your event on that interest.
This can be as simple as going “live” on social media for an interview, webinar or tutorial. It can also be as grandiose as a fully sponsored event with partner organizations. Regardless, this mix can be bolstered by blog posts. Leading up to the event, the blogs can tease related information.
For example, I once posted a series of video tutorials on a business blog with a call-to-action encouraging them to register for an upcoming event. The traffic to those posts came from people interested in learning about the topic. Since the audience was already interested in that topic, the related event was a natural fit.
You can see how this event marketing starts to go hand-in-hand with other strategies like social media and inbound marketing.
5. Email Marketing
When you have a robust collection of blogs, that first click-through can generate more pages viewed per visit and longer on-page time.
Quickly becoming the trickiest marketing medium, e-blasts benefit from rich content. Since you want to keep your email file size small, linking to blog posts allows for extending the content. As you develop an email blast or newsletter, consider the clicks.
What will make your contacts click-through? Something worth further exploration.
Sometimes, this can be as straightforward as an offer. Other times, useful lists, helpful articles or un-gated downloads will push contacts from their inboxes to your website. When you have a robust collection of blogs, that first click-through can generate more pages viewed per visit and longer on-page time. This makes your website “sticky” by keeping visitors around for longer.
Choosing Between In-house or Outsourced Blogging
To blog for your business, you have three options. First, you can generate your own blog posts using your expert knowledge. Second, you can outsource blog posts to someone who can write for your industry with authority. Third, you can generate a mix of in-house and outsourced posts to keep up with your content calendar. Each of these options presents different benefits and challenges based on the skill sets in your team.
Some businesses choose to generate their own blog posts either through a marketing department or as a business owner. It just depends on your company’s size. On one hand, this can be a great process. You know your business well and live the brand daily. On the other side, you are very close to the topic. It may be a struggle to view your business objectively.
- You know your business best.
- You are closer to your customers.
- You’re passionate about the topic.
- You may not keep up with blogging and SEO trends
- Blogging takes time away from running your business.
- You may struggle to view your business objectively.
Typically, I find that organizations struggle to keep up with blogging over time. They start strong with a few hot ideas. Then, the creativity hits a wall until the post frequency and quality suffers.
Some businesses choose to outsource their blog posts to a freelancer, contractor or marketing agency. Usually, businesses choose the writer based off of their relationship with the writer as much as the price or quality. The point of outsourcing blog posts is simple. You want a reliable flow of top-notch content with little oversight.
- You can delegate and it gets done.
- An outsider perspective brings new ideas.
- You can access additional skills.
- Upfront expenses for long-term gains.
- It takes time to build trust with a vendor.
- Feedback and changes takes additional communication.
In most cases, businesses can develop a strong working relationship with a vendor if they are willing to put in time. Often, it means vetting several copy writers or working with several groups until you find a good match. When you do find a writer who can speak in your voice and produce quality content, the results are unparalleled. You’ll have a robust supply of blog posts to shore up your content marketing strategy.
What’s Your Plan?
If you don’t blog for your business, or are unhappy with the current results, you may need to adjust your plan. Each of the marketing initiatives above benefits from blogging, especially when the blogs are high quality. That’s why so many groups put time and funding behind blogging for business.
So, tell me about your blogging plan. How does it support your current marketing initiatives? I’d be interested to know about your group’s goals and expectations for post performance. Leave a note in the comments or feel free to email me with questions.
- Can Content and Blogging Actually Generate Sales? from INC
- Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business and Marketing from Hubspot
- The 7 Deadly Sins of Business Blogging from Entrepreneur Magazine
- 5 Steps to a Successful Business Blog from INC
- Don’t Give Up Blogging: Your Business Is Counting On It from Forbes
- 17 Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Blog from Entrepreneur Magazine
- The 12 Essential Elements Of High-Quality Content from Forbes