Blogging has been around for some time now, with the first blog generally being recognised as Links.net which was created by Justin Hall, a student at Swarthmore College in 1994.
Not that it was called a blog at the time, it wasn't until 1997 that the term “weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger and then shortened to blog in 1999 by Peter Merholz (5 years later, in 2004, Merriam-Webster declared it their word of the year).
While many of the early blogs were created as personal projects and built around topics of interest, blogging has become more and more popular for the media and businesses alike, as it has become a useful tool for reaching a new audience and complementing more traditional marketing techniques.
With potential customers browsing the internet looking for answers to their questions, as well as learning more about the companies they are dealing with, a blog can be a fantastic tool for engaging customers on topics that they're interested in, giving businesses an opportunity to build a relationship with them.
So, if you're considering blogging for your business, there are a range of benefits associated with doing so.
The benefits of blogging for business
There's a great blogging infographic available, which highlights some great facts and figures about blogging, however to save you having to decipher it yourself I have pulled out a key section which describes some of the benefits that businesses get from blogging and it's below.
It's hard to argue with numbers like:
- 126% more leads for small businesses with blogs
- Companies with blogs having 97% more inbound links, and
- Websites with blogs having 434% more indexed pages
But there are other benefits too, and I've identified 7 examples below for your consideration:
1. Educating your customers
Your blog provides you with a platform from which to engage directly with prospective customers and educate them about how your business can provide them with a solution that is suitable for them. Notice that the focus here is on education, rather than trying to make sales with each and every post.
By taking the time to help your customers answer their questions and resisting the urge to try and sell them something in the process, you are able to build trust with your prospects, so when they are ready to buy your business will have already built up a reputation with them.
In addition, by creating content that answers common questions or queries from prospects or customers, you are developing a great resource which can be used over and over again. If people are able to find answers to the most common questions about your products or service themselves, it saves both them and your business time.
2. Search Engine Optimisation
If you can rank higher than your competition in the search engines, then you are going to drive more traffic to your website, providing you with more opportunities to turn prospects into customers, ultimately leading to an increase in sales and profits.
One of the ways you can do this with your blog is to create content related to keywords that you know your customers are searching for. This is a great technique to make sure that you're publishing content that is useful and relevant to your target audience.
Of course, the result is that when the search engines visit your site they will find that you have used these popular keywords a number of times and due to the relevance of your content, they decide that your website will rank higher in the search results than others.
If you consider the image to the right, you can see that there's an opportunity for car insurance companies in NZ to produce content related to “what to do if you're in a car accident”, seeing as there are only 2 companies appearing in the top 6 results for this search.
3. Let your customers get to know you better
Customers like to know who they are dealing with when they are buying a product or service, and these days it's becoming more and more important for the customer to have similar beliefs or feel familiarity with the brands that they choose to deal with.
One of the best ways to show your “business personality” to the world is through your blog. By sharing things that interest you, are relevant to the customer and which reflect who you are and what you stand for, you are providing customers and prospects with an opportunity to get to know you.
Consider some of the larger brands where the personality of the business is closely related to the key stakeholder(s), brands like Virgin, Disney, Tesla and Apple. Lots of customers will feel strongly about these businesses because of who their leaders are, as much as what they can offer or how good the products are.
4. Capture feedback directly from customers
If you're producing content and sharing it on your blog this gives your customers an opportunity to share their experiences with you in response. This could be related to the specific topic you have written about or they may share their feelings about using your product or service.
The benefit for you as a business is that you can learn about what's working and what isn't and make adjustments accordingly. If customer are having a particular issue with an element of your product or service, then having this knowledge will let you address it in the future, rather than being in the dark.
Granted there is always the potential for customers to be negative about your product, services or business, however this is a byproduct of being in business in the first place, the key is taking that feedback and using it to make changes (if it's constructive) and making a different for future customers.
5. Grow your audience through content sharing
People love to share things that they find interesting, posting media and content to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites for their friends to enjoy and comment on. So, if you're producing relevant, useful and engaging content on your blog then it's likely it will be shared by a reader.
This gives you exposure to a new audience on potential customers that you would otherwise not have been put in front of, and if they find your content to be interesting they may elect to share it too, resulting in even more people seeing your post than you could have imagined.
Because people love to get recommendations from friends and family about products or services they are interested in, so when someone elects to share your content with others it can be seen as an endorsement of your product or service, increasing the chances their friends will buy from you (if they're in the market).
Content that is shared or referenced also provides you with an opportunity to get backlinks to your blog and website, providing a boost in your search engine rankings as Google uses this to help determine how relevant or popular your content is when it is presenting results to users.
6. Visitors have a reason to come back
When a prospect visits your website for the first time, it is highly unlikely that they are going to buy during that visit, no matter how good your advertising or offers are, that's the unfortunate truth. So, once they've had a chance to check out your business, learn more about who you are and what you can offer, they leave to find another site to investigate.
Now let's say they are interested in your products or services, but they're not in the market today, if you're not providing new, relevant content via your blog, what is going to get that person to return to your website in the future? After all, if they've checked you out and there's nothing more to learn, they're done… right?
But what if you were regularly publishing content to your blog which they found during their first visit? Knowing that you are going to publishing content in the future that is relevant to their decision to purchase, it's much more likely that they'll return to see what's new at a future date, providing you with a chance to convert them into a customer once more.
This is made even more powerful by adding the option for a visitor to subscribe for updates, allowing you to push new content out to them when it is published, pulling them back to your site. Better still, if you manage to publish an article that directly answers a question that they are having, then your chances increase even further.
7. Convert leads into customers
People go through different stages when it comes to making a purchase, simply put there's:
- The Awareness Stage
- The Consideration Stage
- The Decision Stage
And the beauty of blogging is that it can be effective across all three of these stages, helping you to provide customers with the content they need in each to move them through the buying process.
For example, a series of checklist or tips for buying a new car can help attract customers that are in the market for a new car, but have not yet made a decision about where they are going to purchase it. A follow up article about how to get the best deal from a car salesman would be useful in the consideration stage, while a blog post that talks about your happy customers (testimonials) can help to seal the decision.
As you have read, there are a number of reasons why blogging for your business is important and I've covered 7 benefits that you can receive should you decide to take the time to create a blog for your business. No doubt there are more example I could have covered, so check back in the future for updates and other examples to see if blogging is right for your business.
Of course, if you have any thoughts of your own then do not hesitate to share them via the comments, it's always great to get feedback about how this content is received and what I could improve.
Until next time.