There are a lot of posts out there meant to help you blog better, faster or smarter. We have published our share of articles on the matter, exploring blogging, guest blogging and building blog traffic. But when you’re about to start a business that has an online presence, first of all you need to know why a blog is so important in your overall effort.
As it happens in the life of every business tool, channel or method, the death of blogs has been proclaimed just about as many times as that of press releases. Yet they still remain powerful tools of the online world to boost traffic, connect with customers, reporters and potential business partners. While blogs as a concept might have evolved and changed in time, their efficiency and popularity has increased exponentially.
Businesses across all fields and countries have integrated blogs in their sites and have used them successfully, more so in recent times. They have moved from getting one because it’s cool to investing in a blog because it is great at helping them reach business objectives, such as strengthening their position on the market, building trust for current and future customers, engaging supporters and providing information for those interested, from analysts to journalists.
While thinking of a cool domain name for your new online venture, reviewing design proposals and SEO strategies, here are the top reasons why a blog should be integrated into your business plan:
1. It gives your business a human voice that people can relate to, which builds trust
Customers like to talk to people, not to an undefined business voice that lists prices, services and product benefits. They want to hear your team tell the everyday stories, from successes to water cooler fun and company celebrations. They come to your blog for detailed portrayals of how your business operates and how your products solve real problems. In order to keep them coming and maximize the benefits of your blogs human voice, here’s what you can do:
- Create author profiles showcasing real people in your team. List their business credentials, but also some hobbies, as they are not just working robots and have a life after work
- Write your blog posts as if you were sharing your day’s cool stories with friends, not as if you are pitching an audience with the sole purpose of seeing them buy when you are done
- Reply their comments as if you were having a friendly chat, not as if you were copy/pasting a reply from your legal department
2. It provides fresh content on a regular basis
Apart from the occasional press release, one or two new client testimonials and the odd case study, a business website without a blog is quite static. Fresh content keeps both humans and search engine bots coming your way and there is no better source of new pages than a blog. People expect a few new posts on a regular basis. If you keep the posts interesting, the readers will subscribe and make sure they read everything you publish. So here is what you have to do:
- Publish regularly and make sure new posts are pulled on different pages of your website (your homepage might showcase fresh headlines on the blog, a sidebar widget on your product or service page might pull the rss feed of the recent blog entries and so on)
- Try to stick to a publishing routine. People are habitual creatures and they like to know when to expect fresh content from you
- Keep it interesting. Don’t post just to throw new words at them, it has to be worthwhile
3. It is one of the places where customers can engage you directly
Your other website sections might not provide a way for your customers to reply to what you post. Your blog is where they will come to express their views, congratulate you or report problems. Unlike other social media outlets, blogs are easier to monitor and you have at least some control over them, so they might prove to be an effective way to solve problems, help customers and answer their questions.
It is important to check your blog comments regularly; people get impatient faster than you think! Make sure you reply on time, don’t offend anyone and remember to keep it friendly!
4. Blog posts are linked to a lot more than general website pages
People share posts they love and link to them a lot more than they link to let’s say a product feature page. Or a company description. A list post showing 6 cases when your product or service helped a customer out is a far better link bait than a technical case study that’s clearly a sales pitch. Moreover, posting on a corporate blog about general industry issues, showing their expertise and helping people get to where they want will position your employees as authorities in the field and people will consider and share their opinions. What can you do to help the sharing?
- Make it easy for people to express their views on a post. A simple like button might be preferred to a comment box.
- Make the posts shareable on major social networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google +
- Make sure your posts publish the track backs – links to your site generated by other bloggers quoting your article – it shoes the post is interesting and also shows you promote people who in turn promote your content.
5. Blogs provide the extra space you need to explore stories, case studies and problems you have solved
There is so much space on a website page for you to fill with case studies, best practices, tips and tricks, how-tos and quirky photos showing how cool it is to work in your company. All these need to be explored, as they actually show the world how you can change their lives for the better. Instead of clogging your website, you could publish all these interesting facts on your blog. The tips, advice and examples still reach your audience, without making getting to the point on your website pages too tricky. After publishing the posts, can you help customers get to each category faster? Of course you can:
- Use categories and tags for easier blog navigation
- When announcing a new feature to a product and explaining how it works, link to how to posts, tips and client success stories
- Use a related post plugin on your blog, so that visitors see reading recommendations that help them explore a certain aspect further at the end of each post.
6. Blogs direct readers to important sections on your website in a friendly and convincing way
A page describing the services you provide might send customers to a sales page. But do you think it would be as effective as a blog post showing how a simple tip from you helped a client save tons of money in their business process? A career page might urge people to send their resumes and apply for a job, but do you think it would be as effective as a post about your latest corporate retreat rewarding your team for a top notch job?
Storytelling is always more effective than the most carefully thought out sales pages. Genuine depictions of how things work are more convincing and you should definitely tap into their potential. Just make sure your blog in general and individual posts in particular capitalize on the purchase drive they create. Link to relevant sales pages, promotions or detailed product or service description whenever it comes naturally.
Now you know how you can benefit from a blog as a business owner. Keep in mind these are just a few main ways a blog can help your business and make sure you read all our blogging advice to get the most out of publishing posts on a regular basis!