Many businesses are trying to figure out whether they need to integrate blogging into their marketing plans. What will be the ROI from blogging? Will customers be more inclined to buy because you have a blog? These are just some of the questions being tossed around by intrigued marketers.
 
In this session, Mack Collier of The Viral Garden touches on blogging as a component of a greater marketing scheme for your small business including engaging content, customer feedback, and sales tools. Mack also offers tips and tricks in building your blog and your audience.
 
Mack provides some stats 2007 50% of U.S. Internet population is reading blogs on regular basis. Millenials (55%) and Generation Xers (42%) high percentage of them already reading blogs. This same group has highest percentage of people that are actually blogging themselves. Essentially, blogging is growing at astounding rate.  By 2012, there will be 33% increase in blog readership.
 
What is a blog? A toll that allows you to quickly publish content and one which people can interact with (comments). With those two characteristics together, you can build awareness, using to establish expertise, better communicate with customers and crisis management.
 
In building awareness, blogs are search engine friendly so cn help improve visibility in organic results. There is also the linking factor - blogs linking to each other. You are also able to create a conversation around business instead of simply reacting to what others are saying.
 
Mack shows a case study where Graco decided to start a corporate blog. They decided to position their blog as "by parents, for parents." After 18 months, total online mentions of the company almost doubled. Prior to blog's launch, 68% of all mentions were positive. Now it's 83%!
 
In establishing your expertise, a blog allows you to create a collection of knowledgeable content. This can set you apart from a competitor who is not blogging. Referencing companies sends a strong signal that you are comfortable with your place in the industry.
 
In improving communication, blogs give customers another way of contacting and interacting with you. You are able to collect feedback relatively easy. You are not only able to talk to your customers but you are able to allow a conversation to go on with regards to a particular subject matter, oftentimes related to your business.
 
Running polls as blog posts are an excellent way to gather feedback from customers.
 
Regarding crisis management, a blog allows you to get information out very quickly. You are able to tell "your side of the story." Quickly communicating in this manner instills confidence. Mack provides example of SiteMeter's problems about a week ago. After not being able to log in to the service, he used Twitter to see if people were talking about the company. They were. They had implemented a new site design which people hated. And they were talking about it. When Mack was eventually able to log in, they had rolled back to the older design. They then used their blog to apologize and said they'd gain user's feedback in the future before implementing such drastic changes. He also referred to Dell's incident a couple of years ago referred to as "Dell Hell."
 
Blogs connect people. The social aspects of a blog allow so much more interaction than stales sales copy on web pages or articles.
 
Mack shows case study of how Tim Jackson (Masi Guy), a brand manager for Masi bicycles uses blogs to manage his brand and elevate his business. Not only does he talk about business but he talks about his personal life which allows people to connect with him on a personal level. He is seen as not only an expert in the community but seen as relevant to his community. Since he started blogging as Masi Guy, Masi has seen 400% growth.
 
Reasons why businesses should start blogging include the fact that readership will grow by 33% by 2012. Blogging is also an inexpensive way to connect with customers and grow awareness for a brand. You will also become viewed as an expert, especially when compared to competitors who are not blogging.
 
Mack finishes early and opens it up for questions. I will try to capture some of that here.
 
Q: How do you combat blog comment spam?
 
A: Askimet was one suggestion. Mack suggested that you search for comment spam plug-ins.
 
Q: Where do you place your blog (i.e. sub-domain, folder under main domain, separate, etc.)?
 
A: Mack says its really preference. Audience was split on whether sub-domain or folder is best for search engines. I suggested folder if you really want to make your main site an authority site. A sub-domain will look like a separate site to a search engine. Having blog located in folder under main domain will help make a brochure and/or e-commerce site become more of an authority site in the eyes of a search engine.
 
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Note: These are raw notes taken while live-blogging sessions at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Columbus, Ohio. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors.
September 22, 2008





David Wallace is CEO and founder of SearchRank, an original search engine optimization and marketing firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is experienced in search engine optimization and marketing, pay per click and pay for inclusion management, directory submissions and web site design usability. David is a frequent contributor to various search engine related forums, an active editor of popular directories such as GoGuides.org, Joe Ant and Zeal and has had several articles published on industry related sites. Since 1997, David along with his company have helped hundreds of businesses both large and small increase their search engine visibility and customer acquisitions.






Comments(4)

I think having a blog regarding your business will be a big help. Because in my opinion, nowadays, people tends to communicate and socialize via internet so I think blog will be the medium for them to express their thoughts. Customers and Business Owners should communicate well and I think blogging is a great way of making them communicate to each other.

Blogging is a great way to keep in touch with your customers. Anyone can have a successful blog these days.

Given the design abilities of current Blog software, is a website really necessary anymore? It seems a Blog can pretty much stand in place of a website these days. What's the advantage of having one, the other, or both? Interested in your thoughts. -Andrew

David thanks so much for the great recap of my Blogging for Business session! Hope the attendees enjoyed it as much as I did!

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Search Engine Guide > David Wallace > Blogging for Business - SBM Unleashed