“In the future every business will need an online presence to survive” ~ A software CEO from the 1990s
What is an online presence? Put simply it is about being visible on the Internet. Having a website is the most obvious way of doing this. Listing your business in the on-line version of yellow pages, or a specialist directory, is another way. Using business pages on LinkedIn is a further option. Getting an on-line listing doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will usually cost something.
Is that enough? Much will depend on your business goals. Is a blog necessary? That will be discussed here more fully.
Online Presence – A Marketing Tactic
Lets be clear, a business blog is a marketing tactic. It enhances your online presence, but isn’t overtly about selling. It should enhance the standing of your company by demonstrating the level of expertise in your marketplace. This will be as true whether you make multi-million dollar gas turbines, are a consulting business, or are a local guest house owner.
How does a blog that demonstrates marketplace expertise help sell product? Business blog posts should clearly show what the name of the business is within the body of every article, it should also contain links to the company web site, along with a paragraph advertising the company, brand, or product. If your business has a blog it should already have a method of selling through the web.
The company manufacturing gas turbines may publish a blog post answering the eternal question “how do you clean a gas turbine?” They can also answer the question “how frequently should gas turbines be cleaned?” Other posts may consider questions about planning maintenance cycles etc. Answers will provide solutions to any organisation that is a client or future prospect. Advice given can be general or specific and may even be for competitor products.
Web Traffic Driver
People love asking what, where, when, why, who, and how? Answering these questions is a great way to garner people’s attention and blogs are often better at providing answers than commercial pages. You have an opportunity, when repeatedly asked, to tell customers about your blog and how it may answer their questions. This should demonstrate that your business needs an online presence and a blog is only a part of the approach.
Pages should be written by experts in the subject, not marketing people. There are several ways to bring visitors to your web site, including:
- Search results,
- Advertising links,
- Social medial activity, and
How big is your website? There are likely to be a large number of pages, perhaps several hundred. Pages are hardly ever updated, honestly most businesses should update them more. For example there is no need to update the “Contact Us” page unless you open a new office location, or move. Adding new products may be the only change that occurs.
Blogging provides the ability to ensure the website is regularly updated. Each new post is a new fully-indexed page being added to your site. Creating blog posts is a cue to Google and other search engines that your website is active and they should be re-index it regularly. It should also aid your social media activity providing opportunities for soft advertising. The blog is a growing repository of content, most of which remains relevant, even many years after it was first written.
Generate new Leads
People you provide good advice to will remember. It is a powerful way to generate goodwill and business is of course founded on the goodwill of its customers. Include a lead-generating calls-to-action with every blog post. Readers are provided free offers e-books, white-papers, fact-sheets, web-seminars, free trials, provide them the opportunity to become a client. The reader must provide you their, email address, company, street address, phone number, and any other contact details you find relevant.
Contact prospects once they have had an opportunity to digest the free material provided. Free give-aways should all be available through the blog and website alike.
Blogs Establish Authority
A business blog should answer the questions clients and prospects have. Content should resolve any issues your clients have. You can find the questions clients ask in a number of ways:
- Responses to your “Contact Us” page.
- Questions raised via on-line forums.
- Questions raised on Social Media.
- Mail sent to your company.
- Complaints in the press.
All should be seen as potential input to your blog. A customer complaint should be responded to honestly and frankly, send a response directly to the customer. You may also make it the basis of a future blog post (especially if the response can generate a new “how-to” post).
For example the product, a food mixer. One customer complained they could not make one of the recipes listed in the instruction manual. This is an opportunity to create a blog post demonstrating how to cook that specific recipe, including a video showing precisely how it is done, it is about responding to the complaint but also establishing authority in the subject at the same time.
Driving Long-Term Results
You may consider “Establishing authority” to be a “fluffy” metric, and it is true that this is difficult to measure it in respect of short-term sales uplift. The blog can be a great tool for customer retention as they see your blog as being the go-to place for specific information, whether or not they currently use your product. The blog is another form of sales enablement.
Prospects who have regularly read your blog will come into the sales cycle better informed, knowing more about your product, its capabilities, and how it can help solve their problems.
Looking at the longer term impact there is more opportunity for sales as the blog grows and grows, New posts bring in new leads and contacts, but so do older posts, indeed for most blogs 60 to 70% of traffic each month relates to older posts. Remember not all users of your products will encounter the same problem at the same time and the “how to” post is still as relevant today as when originally written a few years ago. If you recall the question about cleaning gas turbines, these are huge industrial machines and maintenance cycles need to be planned often months in advance so the question is only of interest when maintenance is due to remind operators about the process.
Growth over Time
Business blogs tend to compound their growth over time. When they start it takes time to establish and online presence, build authority and grow trust. Once trust is established people will return to your business blog time and again. Consider this 1 post per month means 12 new pages per year added to your site, 1 a week is 50 a year.
Readers will purchase products from the associated website.
Other Relevant Articles:
- Starting your WordPress Blog – All about Appearance?
- Everyday Readers: One Goal of the Blog Writer
- How to Increase Blog Traffic Despite Having No Online Experience
- Selecting a Hosting Plan for your Blog
- Link Magic – The Value of Outbound Links to your Post