So why am I blogging, and should you blog for your business? And if you are blogging, is it helping?!
Blogging is something that can be a very effective part of your marketing. It's not always sensible to blog in the 'traditional' sense of a diary though ('blog' is short for 'web log'), as if you're not doing anything interesting day-to-day then you might not get value from it! Not sure everyone wants to know that you made 154 widgets today, and that it was 3 more than yesterday, etc.
But if you think laterally about what you do, and use your blog as a way to communicate your expertise and personality, it can work really well. People like to buy from people, remember, so your blog is your way of speaking directly to lots of prospects.
9 good reasons why blogging can be great for your business
Here are a few ways I think that blogs can add value to a business (and help with marketing):
- Blogs give your business a personality. Now this personality could be just you as the business owner, establishing your likes, dislikes, knowledge and approach to what you do. Or you could let employees also write blog entries, so you can show off your talent and the 'people behind the business'. A company blog can showcase your news, your developments, or provide a forum for discussion and interaction.
- A blog gives you the option to show off your personality, and have an identity 'associated' with your business. Let me explain... sometimes it makes sense for your business web site to remain a source of information and promotion for your business. It's not always easy or appropriate to promote your own personality strongly on your business web site. But you can attract prospects for your business, and promote your knowledge and expertise as an individual 'associated' with your business on a blog.
Here's an example — say you offer a professional service like being a Marketing consultant... and you feel that your business web site, while being interesting and informative, is not a place for your business and marketing 'rants'. However, you have a lot of experience in Marketing, sales and business ideas, and want an outlet for them that will attract attention in itself, and showcase what you know. But you want to do this without putting rants on your business web site, where you have decided to look approachable but also professional. So you start a blog that's 'associated' with your business. OK, so I am talking about me here :) but it's an obvious example!
- Another reason that you may want to have a blog to promote your business is that you have a lot to say. Your business web site isn't always the best place to have reams and reams of information if its sole purpose is to act as a lead generation tool and generate enquiries for you. That said, you do want to demonstrate what you know, and so having a separate but linked-to blog is a perfect forum for everything you have to say.
Here's another example — you are a Chiropractor (Hi, Steve!) and you have a business website that tells customers about your service and your experience. However, you have a lot to say and want to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge and attract back pain sufferers with specialist questions to you. Rather than have a huge web site with a page for every type of injury, you start a blog to feature and showcase different injuries and treatments along with your advice.
- With a blog you can present yourself as a different brand or identity than you do on your business web site. This might be a different URL (and if you're smart, search engine friendly), or it might be your name if that's what you're trying to promote. For example, when we set up Steve's blog for him, we wanted an obvious 'does what it says on the tin' SEO-friendly name to showcase his knowledge — hence his blog is www.breakfreefrombackpain.com. This is a good opportunity to have a web presence that says exactly what you do or know, which may not currently be communicated in your company name.
For example, if you are a professaional practice of solicitors or accountants, you might by "XY & Z Ltd", but you could have a blog called 'friendlyfamilylawyer.com' or 'simpleaccountingideasforbusiness.com' (rather cumbersome examples there, but I am trying to be obvious to make my point!).
- Blogs are great for super-fast SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is because blogs are crawled (looked at by search engines) a lot more frequently than traditional web sites. So if you write something new on your business web site, it could take Google a few weeks to come and find it and it show up on searches, but if you write a new blog entry it should be visible as a Google search result in a few hours. This is really handy if you want to respond to something topical like an event in the news. E.g. if you're an IFA, and you want to post a reaction to a change in interest rates, or you're a travel company and get a 5-day deal from an airline you want to promote quickly.
- Readers can choose to keep up-to-date with what you're doing. No need to keep sending out emails or newsletters — if what you're saying is interesting, then people will add you to their RSS feed and get an update everytime you write a new post.
- You can also easily set up automatic emails from a blog to alert readers of new posts. We use a great system from AWeber to do this on our blogs and web sites, which is cheap and easy to use (from US$19 per month). What it means is that everytime you write something new on your blog (and you can do this on websites too — you just need to set it up from your database of subscribers), everyone who has asked for email updates (they do need to sign up) will get an email sent to them with an excerpt of your latest blog post and a link straight to it. Hands-free marketing! This is what I love about blogs!
- Blogs are very easy to manage, which means you can quickly and easily update your web presence with news or special offers. If you think of a deal today, and want to tell all your customers or prospect list about it right now, you just write a blog post and send out an email with a link back — this could literally take you minutes.
- You can of course go one step further and host your main web site on a blog engine. We're now producing entire websites in WordPress (what this blog is written on), and it means if you know how to edit and post a blog you can now produce pages on your website just as easily... very cool! So if you want a new landing page for a PPC campaign, or get a new product in that you want to start selling the same day, it can be a very quick job to set up a new page on your web site. It's a good idea to get a designer to set you up with some templates for new pages and posts, but once you have those its really very straightforward.
If you want to know how to set up a blog, or need some help with that, feel free to give me a shout. And for further reading on the subject of business blogging — have a look at Ed Rivis' 'Ultimate Web Marketing Strategy' book which has a whole chapter dedicated to profitable blogging — and his blog's blogging category here for updates.
Want to talk more about this?