Should You Start a Business Blog?
Why you should consider a small-business blog–and how you can start one
In just a few years, blogs have become a phenomenon. Every day, an estimated 175,000 new blogs and more than 1.6 million blog updates go online, according to Technorati, a blog tracking firm. As of late January 2007, Technorati was tracking 63.2 million blogs.
This explosive growth raises the question: Should your small business start a blog? I believe you should, if for no other reason than to take advantage of an effective marketing tool. In a recent survey of business technology marketing executives by research firm MarketingSherpa, blogs were voted the No. 4 tool for generating sales leads.
Like any other marketing tool, blogs are most effective when used properly. Here are some suggestions for successful blogging, plus some background for those who aren’t familiar with blogs.
The Backstory on Blogs
The word “blog’ is derived from the term “web log.’ In essence, a blog is a web page or site that’s part online journal–hence the term “log’–and part open forum. Some bloggers post new updates constantly; others write updates weekly, monthly or only occasionally.
In most cases, blog entries are short and might include photos or links. Sometimes blog readers can post their reactions to the blogger’s entries. Other readers can then add their two cents to those comments, thereby continuing the dialogue.
The so-called blogosphere contains blogs on practically every conceivable topic. Some blogs exist on the website of an individual or business, while others are hosted on public blogging sites, like Blogger and Windows Live Spaces.
Why You Should Consider Blogging
Aside from generating new sales leads, blogging also offers the following potential benefits.
- A blog allows your business to engage with current and potential customers in a direct, informal, no-pressure way. You can communicate the strengths of your product or service, the expertise of your top executives and the breadth of your company’s experience in ways that traditional marketing and advertising don’t allow. This can help engender a better understanding of your company as well as inspire customer loyalty.
- Because of its collaborative nature, a blog can help you gain insight into customers’ needs and interests. You can then use this information to develop new products or services or fine-tune existing ones.
- A blog can make your company appear more “alive’ and approachable. A website promoting your products or services is an essential marketing tool. But a blog, in effect, gives your company a personal voice, which also can help boost customer loyalty.
- Blogs cost little, if any, money. Some public blogging sites are free; others charge only nominal fees. Also, blogs are often extremely easy to set up and update, with virtually no training required.
How to Be a Successful Blogger
If you decide a blog makes sense for your business, here are some things you should keep in mind.
- Start by setting goals, policies and tone. Decide what you want to accomplish with your blog and let those goals influence your content. For example, you may want to establish yourself as a “thought leader’ in your industry, boost your site’s status in search engine results or differentiate your business from the competition. Also, if your blog will have multiple in-house authors, decide on basic ground rules, such as never trashing the competition. If possible, make a staff member the blog editor to check entries before they’re posted for grammar, typos, tone and consistency.
- Keep it relevant and personal. Blog readers want to know what you–or others in your company–think about the trends relevant to your industry. If you run a local real estate firm, your readers would likely want to know your thoughts on buying and selling trends in your area. Make your entries personal by speaking to readers directly. Tell them a story. Use an authoritative yet conversational and informal voice.
- Make it useful. When you offer helpful tips and links to other resources on the web, your readers will be more inclined to tell others about your blog. For instance, have you read a new book that’s relevant to your readers’ interests? If so, write a short review of that book in your blog. If your blog is an information resource for your industry, other bloggers and website owners will want to link to it. And the more sites that link to your blog, the more likely it will show up near the top of search engine results.
- Use relevant keywords throughout your blog. This is another way to boost your blog’s chances of showing up at or near the top of search engine results.
- Keep readers hungry. If your blog entries are clear, concise and compelling, readers will want to return again and again.
- Use a soft sell. Don’t use your blog to re-purpose press releases, brochures or other content originally created for marketing, PR or advertising. Readers can smell a blatant pitch a mile away.
- Update often. Readers expect blogs to be refreshed regularly. If you update your blog once a month or less, you may not develop a devoted readership. Shorter, more frequent updates are preferable to longer, infrequent ones.
- Consider sharing the duties. Blogging requires a time commitment. Sharing the blogging duties with others in your company can take the pressure off. Plus, multiple voices can make a blog more interesting.
- Stick to it. If you decide to start a blog, make a commitment to keep it going. An abandoned blog won’t give readers a favorable impression of your company.
- Be prepared to evangelize. Because blogging is still relatively new, some stakeholders in your company may be unconvinced of its potential return on investment. Explain how a blog might help your business. Provide examples of blogs you admire and, if possible, how those blogs translated into sales leads, better customer relations or other benefits.
- Consult with trusted advisers. Before embarking on any new marketing initiative, it’s always a good idea to consult with those whose opinion you trust. Do you know a business owner with a business-oriented blog? If so, ask what impact the blog has had on their business. Also ask you’re in-house or contract marketing expert for input on your blog’s goals, content or tone. Finally, talk to your webmaster, site designer or other web-savvy adviser. Should you add a blog to your small-business website or create one on a separate, public site? What keywords would they recommend using?
Something to Say
Ultimately, a blog can be a highly effective and low-cost marketing tool for differentiating your business from the competition and encouraging customer loyalty. All that’s required to be a successful small business blogger is planning, creativity, commitment and, most importantly, something worth saying.
Most Important Advantages of Blogging For Business
There are few important steps that are required to be followed for online business building. Blogging is one of those important steps in this regard. Irrespective of your business whether it is online or traditional brick and mortar kind, in order to expand your online business, blogging can make a significant difference in your marketing effort to attract more visitors to your site.
As per data available it was found that website can get 55% more visitors by using blogs as compared to those who do not blog at all.
The following are the benefits of writing blogs:
Eight Benefits of Blogging For Business:
1. Builds Creditability For Business
Your articles and blog posts can be a source for the targeted people who will get the timely information. Articles that you post regularly on your blog about any product will build credibility about that product and on the basis of that people will consider you as an expert in the field. Check out these business blogging requirements to have a better insight
2. Provides More Visibility To Your Site
If you regularly publish your blog then your name and domain name and the blog will appear in the search engine. As you make effort in online marketing, you will become more visible to your targeted audience.
3. Enforces A Business Brand Establishment
When you regularly write a blog, you must create in such a fashion that it can facilitate to build your brand. This brand can establish if you add few important elements in the blog. One such important element could be putting your name and photo in your blog’s home page. This will help the visitors to get connected to you very easily.
If you can add any video or audio in the blog then it can add further impact on your visitor as they will identify you as an existing person. You can also maintain your same photo which will recognize you and increase your brand value in various social network and media sites.
4. Creates Traffic To Your Site
If your prospects cannot locate you in the physical business location then they can at least trace you through search engines. When such people visit your blog where they are exposed to your businesses, they tend to visit your website too.
5. Builds List Of Business Prospects
For successful blog one requirement is to create an opt-in box. When any visitor visits your blog, then they will leave their name and email ID, which will help you to build a list of prospects. More people visit your blog, more the list becomes longer. People who visit your website have their own needs too. Hence you will be in a position to serve their need and they will also keep visiting your site if you can offer what they are really looking for.
6. Enhances Online Reputation
After you have developed your skill for Blogging then as an expert of that area your reputation will also grow. More you do, positive blogging your reputation gets further enhanced. However, you must ensure that your online activities should not jeopardize whatever reputation that you have generated through blogging.
7. Finally You Get Your Ideal Clients
Your client searches for the required services in the internet and usually the business with blogs come faster on the search list of most of search engines. Once the visitor to your blog finds the solution to his needs, they will repeatedly visit to find solution to their other problems too.
8. More Customers And More Business.
Easier to find you by your prospects and customers, your customer list will certainly grow. As a businessman your effort must be to create more prospects so that they become your customers eventually. With blogging you can certainly find another way to attract more prospects for your business.
5 Great Strategic Benefits of Blogging
Blogging provides business executives and marketers with opportunities beyond and distinct from a typical company website. Because they are less formal, more interactive, and focused on industry issues—as opposed to just the company’s offerings—they provide a forum that is viewed much differently by readers than a vendor website. Blogs are seen as key sources of information rather than just promotion. Blogs are also core to a successful social media marketing strategy.
Here are five key benefits of blogging for businesses:
Establish expertise and credibility. Winning the business, particularly in the b2b world, is usually about doing the best job of solving the customer’s problem. Your website is about your product or service, and the benefits it provides to buyers. Your blog is about something related but much larger: your expertise. If your offering is unique, your blog provides a platform for demonstrating your industry understanding and insights that led to your approach. Even more importantly, if your product or service is difficult to differentiate, a blog gives you a way to create differentiation via your knowledge. Expertise is a powerful differentiators; in commodity markets, it may even be your only effective one.
Become a resource. Following from the first benefit, establishing a position of expertise makes you a resource for industry influencers such as the media and other bloggers. You’re no longer just a source of information about your specific product / service / company, but also about bigger industry issues, trends and developments. This leads to coverage and quotes in a broader array of media, further enhancing the reputation of your blog and the image of your company as an industry leader.
Create a dialogue. Websites are one-way communication, a broadcast medium. I write about my stuff, you read it. Blogs in contrast are interactive: I take a position on an industry issue, you leave a comment, I respond, another reader chimes in with a follow-on comment, etc. Each post can potentially become a conversation, not just a monologue. That creates reader engagement, a deeper level of relationship than just passive information consumption.
Develop new relationships. Becoming an industry expert and resource, and creating dialogs, enables you to establish relationships with prospective customers, potential partners and other industry influences that likely wouldn’t have happened otherwise. A blog lets you attract readers with your knowledge, interests, opinions and observations in a way your website can’t, expanding your circle of influence and business relationships.
Search engine visibility. Blogs are very powerful in terms of SEO for four reasons:
- Thought leadership: due to the difference in the nature of blog content versus vendor websites (thought leadership vs. promotional), search engines often give more authority to blogs.
- Blog-specific directories: while blogs are eligible for most of the same types of links as standard websites (e.g. directories, social book marketing sites, news sites, articles), blogs also have their own unique link opportunities through blog-specific directories and RSS feed syndication sites.
- Blog content is typically updated much more frequently than commercial website content, providing an advantage in increasingly real-time search results.
- Link bait: again due to the informational rather than promotion nature of the content, blog posts are more likely to draw natural links (e.g. from news stories, articles and other blogs) than website content.
In summary, blogging is an online tool that permits users to create content, within a given context, to help establish connections and engage in conversations. Okay, that’s a bit awkward in words, but makes more sense as a picture:
So you would want to know some of the hottest tips about web logging. Here is the listing of them:
- Share your knowledge
- Don’t vet your posts for anything further than errors and readability
- Read and Comment on great blogs
- Be controversial, but not rude
Well let’s get busy! Blog on! – Al Canosa