Nowadays blogging has become a crucial aspect of business marketing strategy, with small and large businesses alike publishing content in an attempt to entertain, inform and ultimately win customers. Even billionaire Richard Branson has admitted that he writes his own blog posts so that he can communicate with his readers. But what are the benefits of creating a blog for your business and how do you start a business blog?
The benefits of blogging for your business
In 2007 author and marketing guru Seth Godin identified a fundamental shift in the philosophy behind modern marketing. In his book, Permission Marketing (2007), he states that traditional advertising methods based upon trying to pull an audience’s attention away from whatever they’re doing no longer works, and that in order to be successful marketers should focus on turning people into friends before trying to turn them into customers. This is the ethos that lies behind blogging: You as a business owner, provide people with valuable information that they want, they then begin to view you as an authority and will keep returning to your blog for more information. Over time a relationship of trust develops between you and your readers making them far more likely to choose your product or service over that of your competition.
But the benefits don’t end there…
Human beings are social creatures and your loyal reader will more than likely recommend you to their friends via word of mouth and social media links. They may also link to your blog posts in order to share information with their friends. The effects of this are two-fold: 1) those friends already trust you because you were recommended by someone that they trust, and are therefore more likely to buy from you, and 2) those links to your site and content signify to search engines that you are an authority in your niche and, as search engines place a high value on authority, your site will begin to rank higher in the search engine results and will receive more visitors.
Creating great content will also encourage other sites to link to your blog. A key component of a content marketing strategy is to point readers to information that is of benefit to them and, as a result, bloggers are always on the lookout for third party content that they can share with their readers. Again, the links that you receive will improve your search engine rankings and also help to drive more visitors to your site.
So, how do you go about creating a successful blog for your business?
Well before you dive in headfirst, there are a few things that you should consider:
What do you want your business blog to achieve?
This might sound like a straight-forward question but businesses create blogs for a range of reasons, such as:
- To build brand awareness online
- To demonstrate their expertise to potential customers
- To encourage potential customers to return to their site
- To develop a good relationship with potential customers
- To improve search engine rankings
Whilst it is certainly possible to achieve several of these goals at the same time, identifying a main goal for your blog will help you to develop content that remains in line with that goal.
Who is your target audience?
Identifying who you are creating content for is crucial to the success of your blog. Ideally you should have a clear picture of who your typical customer is; what kind of language they use, what their needs are and what a typical day might look like to them. By having this picture you can ensure that your content is appealing to them. Take care to adopt the kind of language that your reader uses in your posts and avoid using overly technical jargon if your reader is unlikely to understand it. For instance, if your business offers legal services to the general public you should avoid using complex legal terminology within your content that your readers are unlikely to understand. If, however, your intended readership consists of fellow legal professionals, the inclusion of legal jargon could strengthen their perception of you as an authority in the legal field.
When deciding upon the design of your business blog it’s important to not only consider the aesthetics, but also the functionality. Again, this will depend on your target audience and what is most likely to appeal to them.
Most businesses incorporate their blog within their main company website, but some, like Pepsi for example, opt for a stand-alone blog that has a different tone to their corporate site and is obviously aimed at a different audience. If the purpose of your blog is to drive more traffic to your website and to rank better in search results then it is advisable to put your blog on your own website such as www.mywebsite.co.uk/blog.
There are many blogging platforms to choose from, the most popular being WordPress which is free and offers a vast array of themes and plugins that allow you to create a completely customised blog for your business. Other platforms include Tumblr, Blogger, Medium, Ghost and even Joomla. Each one varies in complexity and features offered. In most situations a WordPress blog is probably a safe choice.
What should you write about?
The key to creating great content for your business blog is to discover what your target audience actually wants. What are they looking for information about within your business niche and what questions can you answer for them? The following are a few methods that you can use to get this kind of information:
- Check out the forums and discussion boards for your industry and see what questions people are asking. Often you’ll find several questions that are asked repeatedly and you could address these in your blog posts.
- Perform a search on Quora.com for a topic within your business niche. This will generate a list of user questions that will give you ideas for post topics.
- Carry out keyword research with Google’s adwords keyword planner. This will show you the most popular search queries for your niche.
Using the above methods will ensure that you create content that is both relevant and useful to your readers.
How often and how much should you write?
There is no golden rule on how often you should publish a post. What’s more important is its consistency. As you start gaining followers for your blog, your readers will want to get regular updates and insights from you in form of posts. Also search engines like Google will appreciate regular updates as it is a sign that your blog is active and constantly producing new content.
As to its length, studies have shown that the greater your word count, the more link-backs and social shares you’ll get. Longer posts, which have more than 1,000 words, usually provide more insights and thus people are more inclined to link to them as a source of information. Establishing credibility and authority in a particular niche with short posts would be very difficult. Below is the proof from a Moz test which was published by Neil Patel on his blog. It shows the correlation between word count and links-backs to a post:
Longer content also gets shared more. Once the word count exceeds 1,500 words, it’s in the optimal zone for social sharing:
Writing a long blog post does not mean taking a small post and adding enough fillers and no-value adding paragraphs to get to a magic number. It’s about providing useful and informative content along with examples and explanations. Hardly any topic can be covered in an informative, insightful and comprehensive manner with a few hundred words.
To give you a perspective this post is comprised of 1,300 words.
Hopefully, after reading this article you’ll now be fully aware of the benefits of including blogging as a part of your business marketing strategy, as well as the knowledge required to begin creating a successful business blog that will attract readers and, ultimately, drive sales for your business. Feel free to visit my own blog for inspiration.
Claus loves working with small businesses. CMS Assist helps business owners with their website by performing time consuming tasks such as adding new pages and making sure the site is secure and up-to-date, while Design Dorado takes care of any graphic design projects that a small business may have, such as creating sales leaflets or a professional Facebook cover.
Both brands are part of Amstadd and offer their services for a flat monthly fee, making them an affordable option for small businesses.