The last year or so has seen a mad rush of marketers heading into the world of social media to set up Twitter accounts, gather Facebook fans, produce YouTube content and drive people to offer reviews on sites like Yelp and FourSquare. Unfortunately, that mad rush has also caused a lot of companies to neglect or even abandon their blogs. This is a big mistake. In the world of marketing, blogs are an absolutely integral part of any company's online marketing.
Earlier this week, I posted about the six reasons SEOs love blogs. That post addressed some of the search related reasons a blog can help boost your business. Today, I want to look at things from more of a marketing perspective and explore the top reasons your marketing team has for wanting to see you properly utilize your blog.
Once again, I'm going to call on some supportive data from HubSpot, who has been cranking out some great posts on the ultimate impact of blogging on search, traffic and leads. There are hard hitting, easy to understand numbers like:
Sites with blogs generate an average of 67% more leads
And there are slightly more complicated, but still important important stats like the increase in leads seen by blogs that have at least 25 posts. Better still, blogs with more than 52 posts see another large jump in the number of leads they generate, presumably because all that extra content leads to more (and higher) search engine rankings).
But just what is it about blogs that make marketers love them so much? Let's take a look at six key factors that help blogs outperform your average business site when it comes to attracting potential buyers and winning them over.
Reason #1: Focused on Education and Awareness
While it's true a good corporate web site integrates education into the mix as a way to build credibility and move people through the sales process, there's still a limit to how far toward the educational side most business sites can go when it comes to focus. Ultimately, your site's primary goal is (and should be) to convince visitors to buy your products or services. The content on the site must reflect that goal.
Blogs, on the other hand, offer nearly unlimited opportunities to analyze, educate, question and converse with your target audience. Your blog gives your marketing team a unique chance to test different approaches to presenting your information and to do it without always being concerned about pushing people to the next step.
Reasons #2: Editorial Freedom
Because business sites need to focus on moving someone through a goal oriented process, the content created for the site needs to do the same. That leaves writers with very little freedom in terms of how they present their information. Everything needs to be goal oriented.
Blogs offer far more editorial freedom to the skilled writer, giving them space to explore related and complimentary topics that may catch the eye and interest of the reader but that do not directly relate to the goals of the site. For hard working writers, this small bit of freedom can make an enormous difference in terms of ability to continue cranking out quality content.
Reasons #3: Finesse them with a Softer Sell
There's a certain level of hard sell that has to be implemented on a standard business web site. You've got to focus heavily on benefits, unique value propositions and getting the conversion. It's a fine art to get those points across without pushing too hard.
Since there's less of a focus on an immediate push to conversion on a blog, there's more chance to master the art of the soft sell. Bloggers can offer content designed to answer questions, reassure the customer, or simply build up a level of trust and rapport over time. These soft selling techniques tend to work on a completely different set of people than the hard sale, allowing you to use your blog in tandem with your business site to target a wider range of potential buyers.
Reason #4: Chance to Define the Personality of the Company
The larger the business, the better the chance its customers view it as simply another nameless, faceless, profit driven company. The smaller the business, the better the chance it's customers will feel it lacks credibility, capability and accountability. These are the challenges that can be difficult to address when your site's focus is on getting the conversion.
Incorporating a blog into your marketing mix allows large companies to seem a little smaller by adding some faces and personalities to the mix. At the same time, blogs allow smaller companies to look more personable, which can also enable them to build credibility and the type of one-on-one connection that creates a sense of loyalty and trust in the consumer.
Reason #5: Content Spreads More Easily
Another problem with corporate sites is there's very little reason to return to them once you've done the requisite looking around. Unless you are coming back to check prices or make an additional order, most people won't visit a corporate site over and over again. Even if you wanted to return to read updates or new information, there's no way to know what changes have been made. Companies can blast updates to email subscribers, but many consumers are reluctant to give their email addresses up to businesses.
The great thing about blogs is they are updated frequently and visitors know they are updated frequently. A visitor who likes your content is far more likely to subscribe to receive post updates via RSS or email than they are to subscribe to a marketing message. Additionally, content spreads quickly and easily via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social sharing options. This makes it far more likely that someone will learn of, and return to read, your new blog content.
Reason #6: A Chance for Conversation
While there's always space to invite feedback on a standard company blog, they don't lend themselves while to true conversation. People simply don't feel prompted to engage with web sites the same way they do with blogs. That's why one of the biggest advantages of a blog is the ability to inspire back and forth conversation with potential customers.
Since a blogger can ask a direct question of a reader and then engage in conversation via the comments, there's greater opportunity to gather the type of feedback you can use to edit your offerings, your services or even just your marketing approach.
Boost Your Marketing by Getting Back to Your Blog
If you haven't gotten around to launching a blog yet, or you've let your efforts slide, you may want to rethink your strategy. There's no replacement for a corporate web site when it comes to selling products, accepting leads or showcasing your company, but there's great value using a blog to reach out to consumers in ways that cannot be easily done via a standard business web site.
If you haven't been paying as much attention to your blog as you could, stop and rethink your strategy. The blog gives you a unique opportunity to reach your audience at a period when they might not otherwise wish to engage with your brand. Make use of it. Your sales team will thank you for it.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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