This post was written by Brendan Swalm and Kathleen Kelly from our superstar Digital Agency writing team.
There’s a lot of content out there on the world wide web, and for good reason. Consumers are hitting search engines at break-neck speed to find out information about products and services of all kinds—and blogs act as a great collection of knowledge and resources for them. If you have ever wondered about starting your own blog for your business, or you’re considering managing a blog for other businesses, here’s everything you need to know (and how to know if they need it at all).
Do your clients need a business blog? (hint: yes!)
Ah, the universal question. Luckily, we’ve got the answer for you. And since you’re here, you probably already know it.
Do you need a blog for your business, or do your clients? Considering that we’re answering this question in the longest form possible—blog form—yes. And here’s why.
You’ll please the Google gods
Want to be on the first page of Google? A blog can help with that. Google LOVES active blogs. When you lace blog titles and content with applicable SEO, you improve your Google ranking. If you do so with their blog, that means you’ll be getting more traffic to your website, and therefore to your business! What’s more is that Google loves sites with regular activity, so posting on a schedule will improve your SERP ranking as well.
When you’re building your website, keep this in mind: when you’re searching for questions related to your business, does your competitor show up first? Beat them to the punch with great content by including an informative and engaging blog on your site.
You’ll establish yourself as the expert
Who knows your business better than you? Nobody! You're the expert in your field, and you can educate your customers with a business blog. How does your service work? What kind of discoveries are happening in the field? People read content that can engage and educate them, so do both! Your business isn’t boring, and a blog is the opportunity to prove it. Creating consistent, valuable content proves to your customers that you’re invested in them and the relationship built between you (Investopedia).
Which leads me to my next point…
You’ll build trust
Consumers gravitate towards brands they trust. Once you’ve established yourself as the expert in your field, people will trust your business. You’ve already given them something valuable: information. The blog can be a source of truth for customers, whether they’re familiar with your brand or finding it for the first time.
There are many ways to increase your brand credibility with a business blog. Teach your customers how to use the products, or showcase how to get the most out of your services. Post about news in the industry. Most importantly, connect. Blogging is a personal way to keep customers informed about what’s going on in your business (Lifehack). Consider blogging on a schedule to create predictability—that way the audience will know when to expect the content!
People like businesses with some transparency, too. Blogs are a great way to communicate what the business has going on. If the hours are changing, or you’re moving locations, a blog is a great outlet for that announcement!
You’ll have promotable content for social media
Your DO have social media, right? If you don’t, take this as an opportunity to get started! If one thing’s for certain, it’s that a business blog and social media pages can work hand in hand. Once you’ve helped established yourself as the expert, now share that expert content to the masses! Coming up with current content for social media can be tough, but if you’re keeping a regular blog, you’ll always have something to post.
What’s more is that relevant blog content is a great way to boost engagement and activity on social media pages. There are over 2.3 billion active users using social media regularly, and that number is only rising. Give them something to talk about!
Don’t be shy, either. According to Entrepreneur, not promoting your content is one of the biggest mistakes you can make with your blog. Share away!
You’ll create more leads
When done right, having a business blog can help you turn prospects into customers, and even attract more people to your business. Businesses with active blogs get 67% more leads than those without. That’s a significant increase! When you’re consistently creating valuable content that can educate people and help them solve their problems, they’ll develop a personal connection with your client’s brand. That kind of emotional connection is what creates return customers. If you’re looking for an ROI on blogging—this is it.
Blogging is the gift that keeps on giving. Once you’ve created content, it’s on the internet to be shared and reshared without limit. Good content will continue to benefit your business—every day that passes only brings more views and engagement to their page. And the better the content is, the more of an audience you’ll have. The internet is vast, but you can carve out your place with a business blog. Essentially, blogs are information, and that’s the most powerful currency there is. And the best thing is that blogs aren’t going anywhere.
So, now that we've discussed why you needa blog, it's time to get into how to make that happen. You didn’t think we were just going to leave you hanging, did you?
Blogging for fun and profit: how to blog for businesses
So, your business has decided to take the leap into the blogosphere. Great! There’s no shortage of reasons why blogging can benefit a business, as we discussed above. However, the world of business blogging may still feel like uncharted territory. What should the blog discuss? How many posts should get published, and how often? Just who the heck is going to read this stuff, anyway? This blog about blogging (a meta-blog?) will help you hit the ground running with tips on creating timely and fresh blogs that meet the needs and engage the minds of your readership.
Lay the foundation
A great blog starts with a great plan, and the planning stage is where you first answer the big questions that will determine what you write about, who you write for, and why you’re writing in the first place. Before you fire up your typewriter, be sure to nail down answers to the following questions:
- Start with buyer personas—who is going to be interested in what your business has to say? What are their pain points, and how do their products or services address and resolve them? Targeting the content to a specific readership makes it more likely to be seen (and shared).
- Develop a list of keywords relevant to the buyer personas. What kinds of search terms will they use when they’re looking for solutions? Knowing the right keywords and putting them into use can optimize your blog to be found, guide your writing process and keep your copy consistent.
- Decide your post frequency—How often will you write? As we mentioned earlier, the fresher and more frequent your content, the more you’ll have to offer to your readership, and the more Google’s page rankings will look favorably on your website.
- Set measurable goals in both the short and the long term. Are you looking to grow your email list and cultivate new leads, or are you focused on making your brand’s voice trusted and authoritative in your field? Whatever the goals you determine, ensure that you also determine reliable metrics for measuring your progress.
Pick your topics
It may be easy to simply write a product feature or fluff up a sales pitch, but it’s important to remember that the primary point of these blogs is to provide value to your audience, not to sell to them. Take another look at the buyer personas and their pain points, and assemble them into categories. These categories and their relevant personas will focus your writing and guide your use of keywords to optimize the SEO boost that the post provides. From here, you can begin to address some general topics.
Another great source of blogging inspiration is your existing customer base. Think about the kinds of questions from customers that you answer on a regular basis. Many of these represent common pain points, and can easily turn into full blog posts. For every one customer who comes in or sends and email with a common question, just imagine how many there are tapping their query into Google in search of an answer!
For example, a furniture store might write a blog on the difference in durability between leather, vinyl and fabric upholsteries, or the different types of mattresses and their levels of support. An informative post that answers common questions and gives readers information that they can act on is going to rank higher on search engines and position your business as a source of information that readers can trust.
Content (not copy) is king
Getting the copy down is one thing, but a blog will be as dry as a bone without engaging content to supplement that copy. The content that your copy supports, more than anything, is what sets the blog apart from your competitors and drives the solution to their readership’s problem. It’s best to make your own, but there are plenty of resources out there for those who don’t collect data or employ a design team.
Provide relevant and substantiated statistics in the form of graphs and infographics—these add credibility to the posts, and can provide shock value when used properly. Use visuals to break up the text. A well-chosen image or two can serve to break up the monotony of plain text as well as add a visual frame to the information the audience receives. Finally, use screenshots or photos to demonstrate your solution in action.
Remember that the goal is to provide value, not to sell. Getting to the end of a blog and feeling like you just read a really long ad means that you’re not going to come back for anything informative or authoritative. The more your readers can learn from a post, the more likely they are to return to the blog when they have another question that needs an answer.
What’s the story?
Tell compelling stories (and write snappy titles). Narrative is a powerful tool, and we’ve known how to use it in sales and marketing for a long time. The same goes for blogs. Framing the movement from conflict to resolution as a journey makes an audience more receptive to the information being shared and puts it within a familiar and memorable framework.
Start by choosing a narrative voice. Anecdotes and stories about a business can use a first-person voice to draw readers in and demonstrate a unique way of overcoming challenges in ways that others can learn from and put into practice. A second-person voice (like the one used in this blog) allows readers to visualize themselves acting out your solutions as you offer them, while a third-person voice is suited to communicating stories about how the business has been part of another customer’s success. Leverage the buyer personas and their challenges to tell stories that will engage the audience and show how your business fits into their lives. The blog posts don’t have to read like a novel, but putting relevant information in action will help transform the blog from a lecture into a success story.
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Sharing is caring
You’ve written something you can be proud of, so be sure to put it out there! Remember when we said social media can work hand-in-hand with a blog? Share new blog posts on your other marketing channels, and put the work in to gain readers other than Googlers and regular visitors to the site. Leveraging your social media following to widen the blog’s audience has the added benefit that a new post that a follower finds useful or interesting is always easy to share with their own network. The more readers that come to see the business as a trusted source of information, the better!
Additionally, the business blogs can (and should) link to one another. Where there’s an overlap in information or blog posts address similar issues, have them link to each other! An engaged reader will always be ready to find out more, and demonstrating that you have more information to offer is never a bad thing.
Last, but certainly not least, bring things home with a with a call to action. Have you ever gotten to the end of an interesting article, how-to guide or blog post and been filled with the inspiration to immediately test what you’ve learned? While the point of a blog isn’t to sell, it’s important to give readers something to engage with that allows them to take action and apply their new knowledge. Whether it’s more content, a link to a product or promotion, or a contact form, your readers will have a way to act on their inspiration, and you will have a way to track engagement and turn readers into leads. Win-win-win!
Here’s hoping this blog has both inspired you to start writing a business blog and given you the tools to do it right! You know that an active blog has all sorts of benefits for businesses of all kinds, like boosting SEO, building trust among a customer base, generating more leads and providing great shareable content for social media channels. Now, by following these blogging tips, you should be well on your way to inspiring your own readers with engaging stories, compelling content, and valuable information that will position your business as a reliable source of information.
With great content comes great responsibility. What will you blog?