What are the business benefits of blogging?
There have been many blog posts written about the business benefits of blogging so I’ve been reluctant to add to the mix. But as I always say to to my clients people are always interested in the unique way you express your views about a subject you are passionate about.
So, here it is! My take on the business benefits of blogging. Originally I thought this would be one post, or maybe even two, but it grew as I wrote and it struck me that it could motivate people into starting a blog or getting back into the blogging groove.
So it seemed appropriate to make it into a page that would be more prominent on my blog and more searchable.
And that’s the great thing about finally deciding to put pen to paper. You usually produce more than you think you will!
10 Business benefits of blogging
1. Competitive advantage
Having decided to market your brand or make your business more visible by using a blog you may think your competitors are way ahead of you. I think you’ll be surprised at how few companies have embraced the idea. They may have started to blog but given up or they may even be doing more damage than good to their brand by not thinking strategically about what a blog can do for them.
I’ve recently joined up with a technical friend to offer a WordPress help service. There are many blogs that have become a crime scene! What I mean is that may be all sorts of problems hidden in the dark recesses of a WordPress blog that the business owner is not aware of.
You may find that a few of your competitors have an excellent presence on the web and are using blogging and social media effectively. Learn from them and incorporate their good ideas into your blog or work on the idea to make it even more compelling.
A blog also allows you to show how you differ from others and why people should buy from you rather than your competitors. Which means that there’s an opportunity to gain market share from others in your industry who have not yet started.
There has been an explosion of content consumption on mobile devices and that trend is set to continue. A blog is a great way to reach this audience and increase the visibility and awareness of your product or service.
2. Build your relationship with readers
One of the main business benefits of blogging is to actively engage with existing and potential customers. There’s an old saying that is fundamental in business – “People buy people”. Most customers want to build up a picture of you before they will buy from you.
So the first step is to become visible online. Then you need to build your credibility. Sharing some of your valuable intellectual property online will help give your potential customer an idea about what you can do to help them with a problem. It will also help existing customers feel confident that their decision to do business with you was a good one.
The problem is that many people do not provide value online as they go into broadcasting or selling mode. People are not interested in what you do or how you do it. They are more interested in what you leave behind after you have done your work.
Once they know how you can help them and what you can do for them, they are more likely to trust you to solve their issue and therefore buy from you.
So a couple of questions you might want to ask yourself would be:
What problems do my clients come to me with?
What solutions do I have that solve these problems?
Derek Halpern of Social Triggers describes these as ‘Super Powers’. Providing powerful solutions to persistent problems will build credibility and trust quickly. If you can take the pain away with a simple and elegant solution they will more likely do business with you.
So many companies see you as a prospective paying customer rather than a human being! You need to be patient and build a relationship as broadcasting your sales pitch on your blog and social media won’t cut it.
The marketing rule of seven
It’s said that before someone will buy from you you need to ‘touch’ them seven times or be in front of them for seven hours. This doesn’t have to be face-to-face. That’s the beauty of a blog which is connected to social media channels. They may see a tweet from you or from one of their trusted contacts with a link to your blog post. They come to your post and like what they see so they follow you on Twitter and sign up for blog updates from you. They get a well-constructed welcome email from you thanking them for signing up and directing them to an interesting video on your YouTube channel.
Later they receive a newsletter with a link to one of your recent most popular posts. They go to the blog again and see you have a special offer that they have a look at.
That’s about 7 touches, maybe not seven hours yet, but they now ‘get you’ and are likely to come back for more and share your material with their network. It’s all about providing value and them seeing you as a trusted adviser rather than a supplier of content!
3. Real time interaction
When people mention you on social media or leave a comment on one of your posts the relationship can deepen as you can start a dialogue with your visitor. If they have a good following online you can get more exposure for your material. I always make sure I thank people for sharing my content and reply to valuable comments on my blog posts. (‘Great post’ is not to my mind a valuable comment!)
Now if they gave me some evidence about why they thought it was great I would of course reply. You sometimes have to make a judgement call on whether it’s useful to get into a conversation with someone.
Real time interaction means that you can build customer loyalty and turn them into an ‘apostle’. Which means they will share your content, leave comments and regularly visit your blog.
When I was a development specialist in a large corporate company our customer service programs always mentioned a certain Harvard Business Review article. This stated that in research they found that your loyal customers provide you with 100% of your profit and offset losses you incur dealing with other customers.
Why? Gaining new customers is costly. Some may take your service or product and never come back so you don’t have a chance to get a return on investment. Some just use you for benchmarking, which means they waste your valuable time asking for a quote and a free consultation but go elsewhere.
4. Easy content management
I use WordPress as my blogging platform of choice because it allows me to update my blog myself. Many web designers now use WordPress as a platform to deliver professional websites and blogs for their clients for this reason. They realise that customers are no longer willing to pay a designer through the nose every time they want something updated. Plus it slows down the process of delivering up-to-date information on special deals and new products.
The only downside in my experience is that quite a few people find the WordPress dashboard intimidating. They may be successful businesspeople, but they find it confusing and awkward at first. However once they understand where everything is, can navigate to the right places and know how it all fits together, they’re flying.
Publishing content is relatively easy once the blog is set up properly. If you can use Word (PC) or Pages (Mac) adding content is a breeze. There are a few concepts that you need to get under your belt to make sure it is optimised from both a design and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) point of view.
5. Low cost marketing device
For under £100 you could set up a blog in a couple of hours. Plus all social media sites are free unless you want to use premium services.
A blog allows you to keep your customers informed of recently launched products and services, builds credibility and trust and keep you in the front of their mind when they are ready to buy. Plus you can build loyalty by informing them of special offers and deals.
A blog is a great tool to manage your online reputation too through news items about positive PR and effective presentation of your brand.
The main investment is in your time and dealing with the learning curve. If you know what you are doing the time invested can be quite low in terms of marketing. If you compare it with direct mail with postal prices as they are and the low percentage of take-up there are obvious advantages in using blogging and social media instead.
6. SEO friendly
The way WordPress is built means that Google and other search engines can easily find and index all of your material. Google also loves fresh content and checks if your information is shared on social media channels. They continually refine the search engine algorithm to respond more intelligently to what and how people search on the web.
An important aspect now is social proof. In real life that means if I went to the pub and asked if anyone knew a good plumber a mate might recommend someone and another friend might second that. I might mention it to my electrician who would confirm that he was a good guy. I would then most likely call and ask him to do the work.
Online Google looks to see how many mentions your blog has on social media sites and scores you accordingly. The more shares you have the greater the social proof. The same happens with links to your sites. Blogs and websites have a Google page rank (from 0 to 10).
So if you have a link to your blog from a high ranking site, such as a national newspaper, then in Google’s eyes you have a certain authority and you get reflected glory. The analogy I like is to imagine that you go to a party with two famous people on the left and right of you. The other guests will immediately recognise the celebrities but will also be insanely curious to know who you are! Social proof in bucket loads.
7. Fresh content
As mentioned previously Google give you points if your content is consistently updated and fresh. Old static websites which don’t get updated will gradually fall out of the top pages. As I often ask in workshops ‘Where’s the best place to hide a dead body?’
To which I get some very interesting replies – a morgue, in concrete, in a coffin etc. My answer is that the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google!
You need to be practical about how many times to blog. Just make sure it’s consistent. If you can only manage one a month, do it every month and publish it on the same day. I would say that once a week is preferable and if you can be prolific and produce useful content then two or more times a week is optimal.
And don’t think you need to do all the work. Producing content doesn’t always have to be all about you. Guest posts can provide a much needed different opinion and fresh views.
8. Social media integration
One of the biggest business benefits of blogging is that WordPress and other blog platforms are easily linked up with social media accounts. See the social media wheel of fortune below:
Your blog is the hub of the wheel and you can link it to all the social media sites you have a presence on. That way people can follow you on their preferred social media platform. Depending on your product, service or micro niche you would choose your social media accordingly.
More formal and professional – you might focus more on Linkedin, Google Plus and Twitter. More informal and fun – you would probably not bother with Linkedin and focus on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
You can also link your social media pages to your blog. Useful as it adds another link for Google to find and you could start to dominate the first few pages of Google for your name or brand. If you Google my name you’ll find I am on all the top pages although I do complete with a racing driver and sales director with the same name!
So you can drive traffic to your blog via social media pages and vice versa and tick the Google social proof box.
9. Media and PR opportunities
Appearing online on top notch blogs or media sites can have an amazing affect on traffic to your site. It can increase brand awareness and business success. Guest posting for other sites is one tactic you can use to get yourself noticed. Even using social media such as Twitter can get you in the front of journalists who would never have found you before.
Like everyone else they use social media and blogs as a source for stories. So if they like what you tweet or find you are an expert in a particular niche you can get picked up.
10. Can earn you money
If you believe everything you read on the internet, blogging can make you a fortune! Well, some people have blogs with millions of readers and do very nicely out of it. But they tend to be mass interest celebrity and ‘aspirational’ lifestyle blogs with lots of photos!
That’s very different from setting up a blog for your business. So do what you’d do with any marketing activity and set some targets before you start blogging. Decide what you want to get out of it – more clients, increased sales, more exposure, invitations to speak etc – and keep checking how you’re doing.
If you don’t you could end up wasting time and money on something that’s not of financial benefit.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but these are my top ten benefits of blogging and why having a blog for your business could work for you. Blogging isn’t for everyone but you would be wise to consider how it might be an opportunity to help you move your business forward.
So there you have my ideas about the benefits of blogging. I’m sure I’ve probably missed out some other aspects so if you have got your own ideas please let me know.