Blogging for Businesses: Why They Should Do It and What To Look Out For
Updated: Aug 20, 2020
BY MATT CRIMMINS
For businesses of any size or scope, the owners really are the subject matter experts. They have poured countless hours into their company, truly understand the product or offering, and are confident that it will address the needs of customers or clients. But how can brands, particularly new ones, best showcase their expertise to customers? How can they convince them they are an authority figure on the topic, and are uniquely positioned to help provide solutions to customers?
To me, blogging is a great way to accomplish this. Putting out knowledge and expertise shows potential customers that, as a business, you know what you are talking about. Done correctly, they can encourage customers to explore your brand or offering further and, when combined with a strong website and sales approach, aid in conversions. As an added benefit, they are incredibly helpful when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), giving your website more content and keywords that can help push it up the rankings with search engines.
If you need some evidence, consider the following (from Ryan Robinson):
77% of internet users regularly read blog posts
71% of B2B buyers consume blog posts somewhere on their purchase journey
Content marketing - such as blogs - is 62% less expensive than traditional marketing, and produces three times as many leads as paid search
60% of people purchase a product after originally reading a blog post about it
Having a blog increases your chances of landing higher in organic search by 434%
As the above statistics show, there is absolutely value in blogging, and that value extends all the way down the sales funnel. It is a great way to showcase your brand and drive awareness, generate quality leads who will engage, and support higher conversion rates and sales, which should be the ultimate metric for all businesses.
But what makes a blog successful and valuable to a business? How does it help support its goals and fit in with the broader strategy and objectives? How does it help drive conversions and sales? Before starting a blog, I recommend each brand take these four simple steps:
Understand your business goals and how blogging supports them
For businesses, blogs should not operate in a vacuum from the rest of the business strategy. They need to broadly support the overall business objectives in order for them to be of any value to the business. The good news is they can support multiple objectives at once. Take our blog for example. The goal of this is to put some of our knowledge out there and convince our audience we have something to offer in terms of helping them market their offerings, generate pageviews for our website and encourage them to reach out, engage with us and convert (which we hope you will).
SEO should also be a goal of businesses who blog. The higher your website appears in organic search results, the more likely you will be to generate leads to your business. I recommend that prior to starting a blog, take stock of some keywords that prospective customers would use in either searching for your brand or for your competition (a Google AdWords account, if you have one, comes in handy here). Pepper those keywords in throughout the blog in an authentic way; do not try to force them in just for the sake of having them. If you can work one into the title that is optimal as well.
Make sure your brand’s website is in order
If one of your goals as a business is to drive traffic to your website via a blog (and it should be), make sure your website is organized and easy for potential customers to navigate once they get there. The more customers have to search around for what they need, the more likely they are to leave your website without taking any meaningful action. I recommend taking a look at the following:
-Google Pagespeed Insights: a measure of how fast your website loads. The faster the better: according to Instapage, a webpage that takes as long as 10 seconds to load increases the probability of bounce by 123%.
-Whether or not your website is optimized for mobile experience: Mobile is a critical element of marketing in today’s world: eMarketer estimates that there were 232.8 million smartphone users in the United States in 2019. By comparison, they estimate there were 14.9 million desktop/laptop users domestically in 2019. A poor mobile experience can wreck any chance a website has of converting.
-What your ‘top of the fold’ looks like upon landing: The top of the fold is what users immediately see when they land on your webpage. What they see needs to be impactful, because attention wanes the further down the webpage they go (per Nielsen Norman Group):
Understand your audience
On LinkedIn recently I saw an influencer post about how they increased engagement and views of their posts. Essentially, they said that instead of posting for their network, they looked at successful people in their fields or what they were interested in, analyzed what they posted and followed their lead. They were fast followers if you will - do what the successful person does.
While I think there is absolutely value in analyzing what your competition does and learning from them, I think this is a poor strategy for someone to replicate. The reason: the audiences are different for two separate people. One audience may have different tastes than another, and copying one strategy may not resonate with the audience of another. So to me, knowing your audience as a brand is paramount, not just replicating the successful strategy of another.
The same is true for blogging. Take steps to understand your audience - who are they, what are their wants and needs, what pressures do they put on themselves, what pressures are put upon them, etc. - because only then can you deliver meaningful content that will resonate with them, keep them coming back for more and convert them into customers for the business. Some of this can be done through secondary research, some of it can be trial and error (i.e. post blogs, see what resonates with your audience, what does not and course correct accordingly). But without an understanding of your audience, your blog will fall flat.
Decide what metrics to collect
Ultimately, any business strategy should have conversions and sales as a top line metric. Every action undertaken by businesses should in some way be tied back to that. But understanding what else to collect, measure and analyze can yield valuable insights about how your blog is performing, and whether or not you need to course correct. I recommend at a minimum tracking pageviews, engagement (particularly if you share the blog across different channels, which I recommend), tracking source and conversion rate.
For a more concrete example of how this all comes together and the impact it can have on a business, consider the case of Expresswriters, a content creation company for marketers that began blogging in 2012. Their initial strategy revolved around quantity over quantity, but as time went on that paradigm shifted towards quality blogs. They put this plan into place in September of 2016. Over the course of the next 17 months, their monthly income went from $45,000 to $120,000, were moving significantly up the Google search rankings and were providing content that not only resonated with their audience but helped to secure sales and convert prospects into customers. As you can see, doing this well takes time, practice and commitment - but can pay dividends in the long run for your business and brand.
Lastly, I would advise anyone nervous about blogging to just get started. The first blog can be the hardest - this is my first, and I can say this was not easy to write! But in getting started and establishing a regular cadence, you not only find your rhythm but you figure out what does and does not work with your audience. Remember: you are the subject matter expert and you are sharing your knowledge with your customers. That is a very positive thing. Be authentic, be genuine, provide value to your audience and you will reap the positive impacts.
Oak Moon is a consulting firm in Columbus, OH that helps early stage technology companies create and market their brands. Contact us, we would be happy to share more case studies on the value of blogging.