At ZUZA, we’re big on the concept of Content Marketing. We’ve blogged about it a couple of times already, first in general, then on the topic of webinars. Today we’d like to discuss blogging, another great form of content to provide to your prospects and customers and an important part of your marketing effort. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of blogging and the dos and don’ts.
Benefits of blogging:
- Engage with customers
- Build credibility, trust and loyalty
- Increase traffic to your website
- Expose customers to what you provide
- The gift that keeps on giving
A great way to engage with customers.
Your company is an expert in how it helps customers solve a particular problem or gain a specific benefit. Whether it’s a consumer product you’re offering or a technical service to other businesses, your team has put a lot of time and effort into understanding your customers’ needs and developing a product or service to help them meet their needs.
This knowledge makes you uniquely qualified to blog about matters related to those customer needs. You can provide a real service to your customers, offering knowledge and information that helps them make good personal and business decisions.
Provide your readers with impartial, genuinely helpful information and they will greatly appreciate it. Some will be moved to comment on what you’ve written, opening the door to a two-way dialog with them. This is a great entrée to build a relationship that can lead to sales down the line.
Giving real help builds credibility, trust and loyalty.
Your blog is NOT the place to spew out self-serving sales messages and calls to action. Some bloggers should re-read the previous sentence a few hundred times, because they still aren’t getting this. Using your blog as a glorified infomercial is the surest way to drive away visitors. Imagine if you were to sign up for a seminar about proven marketing techniques only to find out upon arrival that it is actually a pitch for a multi-level marketing scheme to get rich selling water purifiers. It’s the same with blogging.
Instead, keep your blog completely clean of sales pitches. Your goal here is to position your company in the minds of your customers as not focused on its own needs (selling stuff) but solely on their needs (solving their problems, eliminating their pain, providing them with fulfillment, satisfaction and pleasure). As they consistently experience this with your blog, they will believe in your credibility, trust that you genuinely care about them, and become loyal to your brand as the one to trust.
Then they’ll subscribe to receive email alerts and RSS feeds about your blog and follow you on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+, because you are a trusted source of information they will want to refer to again and again.
Blogging increases traffic to your website.
- The more interesting and useful your blog, the more often visitors will return to read your blog posts as well as refer them to colleagues and friends via email Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.
- The more blog posts you have and the more relevant keywords you include in your blog posts, the more the search engines will index your site, boosting your site’s overall search engine rankings.
- These days, the first thing people do when searching for a solution or for information about a topic is go to their trusty search engine (Google, Bing, etc.). The more you blog, the more likely your site will come up in their searches.
Expose customers and prospects to what you provide.
This one’s simple. People who visit your site to read your blog may well stick around and click around your site to learn about what you do and what you provide. The more often they visit your blog, the higher the probability that they’ll stick around and click around.
The gift that keeps on giving.
Unlike traditional media buys like an online ad or print ad, direct mail campaign, or other limited-time promotion you’re paying hard dollars for, blog posts have an unlimited shelf-life. They remain online for people to find forever. And, unlike traditional media placements which grow stale the longer they’re run, blog posts that provide useful information can remain relevant for years, ever-available for new audiences to discover in perpetuity. In other words, when you invest in blogging, you are creating a marketing vehicle that will continue to provide returns indefinitely.
Dos and Don’ts.
- Think like a journalist. Write about things your audience really cares about. Provide well-researched, credible, authentic, authoritative information that is focused, concise and helpful. Stay on topic. Make a point. Drive it home.
- Be creative about finding content. Stumped about what to write about? There are so many sources of inspiration and information on the web just waiting for you. Subscribe to relevant blogs yourself (including those from your competitors!). Follow sources of relevant information on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ and scour their posts for ideas and supporting content. Use an RSS feed tool like Google Reader, which can email you with alerts whenever something is posted that can serve your needs. Read relevant books. Talk to your industry peers. There’s no shortage of content sources for your blog.
- Write well. Poor writing reflects poorly on your brand and drives readers away, never to return. If you don’t have good writers on staff, hire a professional.
- Be consistent. Put your blog post out on the same day every month, two weeks or week. Consistency builds trust. Miss a post, and your readers may wonder if that’s the end of the blog. And by the way, publishing your blog once a week is optimal for building search engine rankings and traffic without inundating your readers with content.
- Promote your posts. Don’t just post on your site and then wait, and wait, and wait for people to show up. Email your customer/prospect list every time a new blog post is available. Post links to the blog on your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ accounts. And consider posting links to your company’s blog posts on your own personal social media sites so your own friends and colleagues can read and share the posts. In fact, encourage everyone in your company to do this.
- Don’t sell. Imagine meeting someone for the first time at a networking event and instead of having a friendly conversation with you, all that person wants to do is get you to buy something. Icky, creepy. Turn off.
- Don’t underestimate the effort. Blogging takes time, including research, writing, proofing and then posting to the web, email and social media sites. Make sure you have the resources to dedicate to doing a good job of blogging.
- Don’t expect miracles to happen overnight. Be in this for the long haul, because you won’t see instant spikes in traffic and prospect inquiries after a few blog posts. Quite the contrary, it can take upwards of a year to build a solid audience for your blog. Don’t give up! Be consistent about pumping out your blogs like clockwork and providing great content every time. Your efforts will bear fruit.
This post is a top-level summary of blogging for your company. We’ve barely scratched the surface here. Do a Google or Bing search on how to write a successful blog and you’ll find a wealth of tips. We also encourage you to subscribe to a variety of blogs yourself to see how it’s done and get ideas. And, as always, we’d love to get your thoughts on the subject. Maybe you’re an expert blogger already and have some tips for us!
Here’s to marketing champions. See you in the next post.