How business blogging can benefit your company.
Well, years ago, I started business blogging before it became a business phenomenon. It was my way of sharing thoughts about online marketing from a first-person perspective. As a result, I gained some recognition as a “thought leader” and trusted resource, and I can tell you there are many benefits to business blogging.
With the advent of social media, blogging took a back seat and ceased to be “cool.” People became enamored with sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. After all, it was much easier to post a Facebook status update or 140-character “tweet” than it was to take time to compose a full-length blog post.
A study conducted earlier this year by Social Media Examiner, which surveyed 3000 marketing professionals, found that the social media platform they wanted to master most was not Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Some 62% of survey respondents said blogging was number one. The old is new again!
“The power of blogging to reach huge audiences and prospective customers cannot be underestimated. If you want your voice to be heard on the social web, you need to have a blog,” stated Social Media Examiner.
7 Benefits to Business Blogging
I can think of no less than 7 benefits blogging can provide marketers.
Blogging Benefit #1 -- Search Engine Marketing
I believe that frequently-updated, keyword-optimized, thematically-relevant blog will equate to better returns on Google.
The reasons are four-fold: Blogs are primarily text-based, contain search engine friendly HTML code, tend to get crawled by the Google spider more quickly and bloggers are natural link builders. (In the earliest iteration – circa 1997 – blog posts were little more than lists of links to other resources.)
Someone once said that the word blog stands for “Better Listings On Google,” and I happen to agree. It’s not that Google (or Bing) has special affinity for blogs, quite the opposite. Blogs lend themselves to the type of content search engines are looking for, and which they award with improved rankings.
They do so for four reasons:
• Blogs are primarily text-based;
• They use search engine friendly code;
• Due to frequent updates, blogs tend to get crawled more quickly;
• Bloggers are natural link-builders.
I teach a principle that says: Frequently-updated, keyword-optimized, topically-relevant posts equal better rankings on Google.
Allow me to explain my rationale.
Frequent Updates: Search engines like frequent updates because its gives them a reason to return to and re-index the site.
Keyword-Optimization: The job of search engines is to provide the most relevant content based on keyword-based searches. While search engines are far more savvy than to fall for the old trick of stuffing content with keywords, those still comprise part of the complex algorithm search engines use to determine relevance and, as such, still play an important role.
Topical Relevance: This is important, too, because search engines want to understand the “proposition” of the site – what it’s about, in other words. It’s called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), which is a fancy term used to describe the fact that search engines don’t just take into account the copy written on one web page (or blog post), but the content of the entire site. The more true to the topic a blog can stay, the better the opportunity for Google and Bing to achieve that goal.
It’s also good to link to other, relevant sites in a blog post (as well as other relevant posts inside your own blog). Google is not just looking across the breadth of content posted on your own website, but at both inbound and outbound links to other sites.
My rule of thumb is to never write a blog post that doesn’t include at least one link. Bottom line: the more relevant the links, the better.
Business Blogging Benefit #2 --Direct Communications
Blogs enable businesses to bypass media gatekeepers and reach their customers, prospects and industry colleagues directly.
Benefit to Blogging #3 -- Brand Building
Blogs connects the reader with the brand in a personal way. As one person put it, “A blog is like an ongoing tour with a guide that you get to know.”
According to Steve Yoder, author of “Get Slightly Famous,” blogs allow you to:
- Differentiate yourself from the competition;
- Position your focused message in the hearts and minds of your target customers;
- Deliver your message clearly and quickly;
- Project credibility;
- Strike an emotional chord;
- Create strong customer loyalty.
There is a major shift away from brand building through the use of broadcast media to one that focuses on telling the brand’s story in a uniquely personal way. It’s a shift from “push” to “pull,” which is often referred to as “inbound marketing.”
In his book, Get Slightly Famous, author Steven Van Yoder says blogs can benefit companies in several ways related to brand-building. They allow you to:
• Differentiate yourself from the competition;
• Position your focused message in the hearts and minds of your target customers;
• Deliver your message clearly and quickly;
• Project credibility;
• Strike an emotional chord;
• Create strong customer loyalty.
By sharing your expertise, insights and ideas, blogs can help set you apart from the competition and build credibility, which leads to enhanced trust.
Benefit #4 -- Media and Public Relations
Blogs can help get the media’s attention, which means they call you, not your competition.
Though blogging has taken on a more formal structure in recent years, the heart of the medium remains unchanged. It is still one person (or a company) communicating directly with consumers in an unfettered, unfiltered manner. In that sense, blogs are a more personal form of communication.
One person who epitomizes this ethic is CEO and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt. Though he uses his blog to provide helpful tips – 5 Rules for More Effective Presentations is one example – as often as not, he uses it to share insights gleaned from his own life experiences.
In his post, How Differences With Your Spouse Can Make Your Marriage Stronger, Hyatt says, “When I first met Gail (his wife), I was attracted to her precisely because she was different. Sadly, after a few years, these same differences started to annoy me. In fact, I began to think that my approach to live was right and hers wrong.”
It’s that type of transparent self-disclosure that has made Hyatt both a popular blogger and a leader worthy of respect. Not only does this bode well for Hyatt himself, but, as a representative of his company, for Thomas Nelson, as well.
Benefit #5 -- Exploit Marketable Niches
Blogs are niche market penetration tools, the benefit business blogging is that it reaches these niches. Use them to target a single topic that’s relevant to your business or industry. For many industries, especially B2B, chances are good that you’ll be first to market – and being a first mover has its advantages.
A number of years ago, when just starting out as a marketing consultant, I received a call from the Enquirer. Keep in mind, the only Enquirer I knew about was the publication that graced the shelves of grocery store check-out aisles and I was puzzled as to why a reporter from that rag would be calling me.
As it turned out, it was the Philadelphia Enquirer, a respected newspaper. The reporter told me she was researching an article on business blogging, had read some of my posts and assumed I could shed some light on the topic.
The point: the media contacted me and not my competition thanks to my blog.
It’s an accepted fact that journalists scour the blogosphere looking for source material. Therefore, it stands to reason that, using a blog, you improve your company’s chance of getting media attention. “Earned” media is better than paid media any day, wouldn’t you agree? How's that for a benefit to business blogging?
Indium, a manufacturer of electronic assembly materials for companies like Intel, has tapped blogging as its “goto” marketing strategy.
Through the use of multiple, niche-topic blogs, the company has: distinguished itself as a thought leader in the market; experienced a strong uptick in opt-in leads; and has seen a sizable reduction in marketing communication expenses.
Indium’s Director of Marketing Communications, Rick Short, takes a pragmatic view of the tactic. “[Being a thought leader] is being considered the best, most authoritative, trusted source. It means being the ‘go to’ people,” he said. “And it all leads to increased sales, profits, and image or it simply [doesn’t] matter.”
Best Benefit to Business Blogging #6 -- Lead Generation
When combined with effective calls to action, business blogs can help your business generate leads (and sales).
I don’t mean that you should turn your blog posts into glorified advertorials; it’s best to keep content editorially-focused. But you can surround the blog with CTAs much the way that Hootsuite, the social media management tool, does with its blog. In this way, the benefit of business blogging will be that you gently lead your readers to act after reading your bog post.
Hootsuite places calls to action in the right-hand sidebar that encourages readers to try its product (note the area highlighted with the red border).
Calls to action could include such things as newsletter subscriptions, ebook or white paper downloads, company contact information or links to other sections of the website.
Another way to incorporate calls to action is by linking to different sections of your website within the post. This can lead to more time spent on the site and increases the chance that an action will be taken.
Benefit #7 --Promote Internal Communications
Blogs aren’t limited to external marketing communication; they can also be used behind the firewall as a “social intranet.” In fact, that’s exactly what we do here at Bizzuka.
Blogs make it easy to facilitate conversations among employees and get feedback on matters of concern to the company. It helps “flatten” the organizational structure and gives everyone a voice.
Business Blogging Questions
One question that almost always arises when it comes to the use of blogs is, “What do I write about?” It’s a fair question. Here are 10 ideas to help you get started. Write about:
- What you know – your “sweet spot”;
- What interests you and what you’re passionate about;
- Industry trends and breaking news;
- Customer case studies and testimonials;
- Interviews with industry leaders;
- Industry research data;
- Products and services;
- Lists – “Top 10, 5 Ways, 6 Trends, etc.” (people love these)
- Product reviews;
- Links to other articles and posts (we call that content curation).
The main thing is to focus on giving your readers helpful information that addresses their concerns, answers their questions and solves their problems. Do that, and you’ll become a blogging rockstar!
Another question is: “How often should I blog?”
My answer: As often as time allows. The more you post, the better, so far as Google is concerned. But if it comes down to a matter of quality versus quantity, I’d opt for quality any day.
Set a goal of writing a 350-500 word post once a week. If you can post more often, that’s great too.
I like what Brian Solis, a well-known public relations expert, author and long-time blogger said about the value of business blogging:
“After much personal research and experience, I’ve found that a genuine, helpful, humanized blog, combined with the art of cultivating and building relationships, can forge real connections, shape perception, improve customer service, and enhance brand loyalty, reach and resonance.”
Blogs provide a way to positively affect search engine returns, influence customer opinion and increase lead generation. So, what’s holding you back? Consider starting a blog for your business today. The benefit to business blogging far out weighs not blogging.