Did you know that every month more than 409 million readers view over 20 billion pages? People are looking for all kinds of information and their research starts online. That’s why blogging is one of the most popular marketing tools for businesses of all sizes, across all industries. In fact, 55% of marketers say creating blog content is a top inbound marketing priority.
Sharing valuable content on a company blog is a great way to connect with potential customers and establish your business as a leading expert in your industry or community. Best of all, a blog can also have a huge impact on your bottom line. B2B marketers that blog receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
A blog is a smart choice for many companies, but before you jump in, let’s ensure that blogging is right for your small business. Here’s all the information you’ll need to decide if you should add blogging to your marketing strategy.
For many businesses, blogging is a quick and easy way to stand out from the competition. A successful blog is a powerful marketing tool that can establish your company as an authority in your industry.
One example of an entrepreneur who launched an effective blog is Marcus Sheridan, the business owner now known as The Sales Lion. Sheridan is the owner of a swimming pool company and when the recession hit in 2008, he had to come up with some creative ideas to promote the company, fast. That’s why he started using his blog as a platform to answer customer questions.
Sheridan and his following grew quickly, and now River Pools and Spas is the most visited pool website in the world, with over 750,000 hits a month. His company’s blog is proof that blogging can help you connect with customers. By providing valuable, free information online as Sheridan did, you can build a meaningful relationship with your customers that sets you apart from the crowd.
Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Reach Customers
Search engines favor websites that consistently produce fresh content. Posting regularly on your blog will let Google know that your website is relevant and up-to-date.
Using SEO keywords on your website makes it easier for potential customers to find your business when they are researching a related topic or looking for an answer to a question. If you launch a blog that uses keywords, every blog post is another chance for your company to show up in the search results.
Even if you post only once a month, you could rank for an additional 12 keywords and generate more opportunities for customers to find your business.
Showcase Your Expertise and Establish Authority
Most shoppers (82%) research products online before they make a purchase, which means they are looking for information before selecting a product or service. Blogging gives you an opportunity to convince readers to become customers.
Posting regularly on a blog can establish your company as an authority in your field with potential and existing customers. By answering frequently asked questions on your blog, you may encourage readers to contact you, go to your store or purchase your product online.
If you’re in an industry where blogs are rare, launching a blog can differentiate your business from the rest. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, for example, has used their blog to answer common plumbing questions submitted to Google, and this positions the company as an expert in the field.
Post Shareable Content on Social Media
Social media is one of the best places for people to connect with brands they love. However, many SMBs struggle with how to use social media to benefit both the company and their customers.
Every time you publish a blog post, you create an opportunity for others to share your content and gain more exposure for your business. In fact, 23% of social media posts now link to content, including blog posts.
A single post can be used in different ways to engage customers on social media over several months or even years.
Blogging for business isn’t a short-term strategy, so it’s important you understand the potential drawbacks before you commit.
Creating Quality Content Can Be Time-Consuming
Writing quality content takes time and skill. You need to brainstorm ideas, do research and then find the time to actually sit down and write.
In a survey of over 1,000 bloggers, it was estimated that the average blog post takes approximately 3.5 hours to write. If you’re already pressed for time, finding a few hours every week (or month) to write might be a challenge.
What’s more, writing is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Quality content is the number one factor that gives a blog credibility, so any content you publish should be thoughtful and keep the needs of your audience in mind. Throwing up any old thing you write could actually have a negative impact on your company’s image.
It Also Takes Time to Build an Audience
If you’re going to invest time, energy and potentially money into a blog for your small business, keep in mind that this is a long-term marketing strategy. SEO is a key component to every successful blog, and it will often take several months for a new blog to gain traction with search engines.
To build an audience, the content you create has to be highly relevant and directly address the needs of your readers. It can take time to pinpoint what is popular with your audience. Pay attention to what gets the most views, likes or shares on your blog and keep that in mind when you’re planning future content.
Running a Blog Can Be Costly
If you already have an established website, there may be additional costs associated with launching a business blog. If you plan to write for the blog, you might consider investing in a course to improve your writing skills. Want to hire a pro to write for your blog? Keep in mind that commissioning a professional writer can cost upwards of $100 an hour or $1.00 a word.
If you don’t already have a website up and running, you also have to consider the cost of securing and registering a domain name, monthly web hosting, a website builder (if you want to DIY) or hiring a web developer, logo design and branding.
If you’ve read this far and decided that blogging is a good fit for your SMB, there are a few key actions you’ll want to take before you start writing. Here are some of the basics you need to know.
Your Blog Should Be Clean and Easy to Navigate
People want content that is easy to consume, which is reflected by the fact that 43% of people admit to skimming blog posts.
The easier you can make your content to consume, the better. Too many different fonts or colors can lead to a blog that looks busy and hard to read. To create an enjoyable reading experience, choose no more than two fonts (one for the text and one for the headers) and use this formatting consistently in every single post.
The Retail Doctor blog is an example of a clean and simple blog that is easy to navigate and uses images and fonts in an appealing way.
If you aren’t certain of the best way to design a blog that will appeal to your audience, try using a website builder that comes with customizable elements that have already been tried and tested. With a good setup, it will only take a few minutes to customize your needs, so you’ll be blogging in no time.
You Need a Clear Strategy for Your Content
Every successful blogger will tell you they have a strategy and plan for their blog. Before you start blogging, decide what business goals you want to support with the blog. Are you looking to generate leads, educate potential customers or increase online sales? Do you want to drive brand awareness or build a community of users?
Your goals should dictate the content you create but aim to create content that supports your goals and serves your audience at the same time. It’s a good idea to select topics and build a content calendar after you’ve thought about what your business needs and your customers want.
Your Blog Should be Easy to Manage
You don’t need to be a web developer to manage a blog. With so many website builders on the market, you can create a business blog that is easy to maintain on an ongoing basis.
You’re already committing to something new, so the last thing you need is to be dealing with frequent technology headaches. You want your blog to be simple to use when you’re setting up and publishing your posts.
Your Blog Should Be Consistent
Whether you decide to publish weekly, biweekly or monthly posts, you need to pick a schedule and stick with it. If you’re consistent, your audience will know when to expect new content and they’ll look forward to the updates. If you post on random dates, it will be much harder for you to build a following.
While the types of content you post can vary from one week to the next, the voice and tone of the posts should remain consistent to help build trust with readers.
While blogging for business is something that requires dedicated time and effort, the results can be well worth it for your business. With proper planning, strong content and some patience, blogging can pay off in the form of new customers, and ultimately, more sales.
Feature Image: Unsplash / Etienne Boulanger
All screenshots taken by the author, May 2019.
Image 1: via River Pools and Spas
Image 2: via Benjamin Franklin Plumbing
Image 3: via Web.com Facebook Page
Image 4: via The Retail Doctor
Image 5: via Web.com