If you’ve read anything about marketing in the past ten years, you’ve probably read about inbound marketing, content marketing, and the benefits of blogging for marketing. If you haven’t tried it yet, you might be wondering what a blog post can do for your brand and your business.
Since we’re in the business of putting words in our customers’ mouths, we know a lot about this, so we thought we’d give you an in-depth crash course in what blogging for business is, how you can get started, and why it’s such a huge deal for modern marketing strategy.
What Is a Blog?
Let’s start right at the very beginning: what is a blog?
The word blog is actually a shortened form of “we blog” which was a phrase coined by Jorn Barger when he played with the word “weblog”, way back in the 1990s! Weblog became blog over time, and it’s stuck. We might have come a long way from the early years of the internet, but the term blog has stuck around, and become both a noun and a verb!
Everyone is blogging these days, from businesses to stay at home moms, and it’s become the backbone of content marketing.
What Makes Blogs Different?
Blogs are different from other types of writing and content because instead of being formal and structured, they’re conversational, interesting and even funny. They can be long or short, can include other types of media like photographs and videos, and can be created by almost anyone.
It’s this conversational nature that makes blogs a perfect way to connect with customers because when you write a blog post, you’re writing as though you’re talking to a friend, rather than diving a lecture to a bored room of people who only care about what time lunch is. It’s probably best described as infotainment, and it’s perfect for today’s busy web users.
We’d all rather learn things from people who are interesting, engaging and entertaining, and since content marketing is about teaching people about your brand, products, services and industry, it’s the ideal way to turn a website visitor into a loyal customer.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
To understand the benefits of blogging for marketing, you first need to understand the concepts behind content marketing.
It all comes back to a concept called inbound marketing, which is a type of marketing that relies on customers to find us. This type of marketing evolved directly because of the advent of search engines, and the realisation that people were using the internet to find the information they needed.
Companies, marketers and advertisers all realised that by creating content that answered those questions and included popular search terms (also known as keywords and phrases), companies could direct search traffic to their website.
If the content they had on their website was interesting enough, and the website impressed the potential customer enough, they might take the next step in contacting the company or even making an online purchase.
Inbound marketing changed the way we market forever. Instead of the traditional approach of sending our message out to as many people as possible and hoping for a good result, we now have a way to find people who already want what we are selling, convince them that we are experts in our field, and keep them talking to us until they’re ready to buy.
That is some powerful stuff.
To help illustrate the business benefits that can be gained through blogging, here are some amazing stats that have been compiled by the team at HubSpot:
55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. (HubSpot, 2018)
One in ten blog posts are compounding, meaning organic search increases their traffic over time. (HubSpot, 2016)
Over its lifetime, one compounding blog post creates as much traffic as six decaying posts. (HubSpot, 2016)
Marketers who prioritize blogging efforts are 13x more likely to see positive ROI. (HubSpot, 2019)
81% of B2B companies use Blog as a content marketing tactic. (Content Marketing Institute, 2016)
66% of marketers surveyed used blogs in their social media content. (Social Media Examiner, 2019)
43% of B2B marketers say blogging is their most important type of content. (Social Marketing Industry Report, 2017)
Blogging, Search Engines and Customers
An interesting element of blogging for marketing is that there are actually two important factors you need to address: the first, of course, is your customer. If your blog posts aren’t well written, interesting, useful and answering a question or solving a problem, you might as well not be writing them.
But, in order to make sure that the people you want to reach see your blog posts in the first place, you have to make sure that search engines know where to categorise them and deem them important enough to show up in search results. That means using keywords and phrases correctly, structuring posts correctly (also known as optimising them) and keeping up a consistent and regular posting schedule.
It’s this careful balance between the human reader and machine cataloguing that forms the basis of content marketing and makes blogging for business a tricky proposition for those who are just getting started.
Style and Substance
Since you are writing blog posts for two different “audiences” with different wants and needs, there’s more to the process of blogging for business than just sitting down to write the blog. In fact, before you leap right in and start writing a blog post, there are several things you should consider:
- Who are you writing for? Business customers will expect different types of blog content to consumers. Spend some time creating marketing personas, so you know who you are writing for.
- Remember that blog posts are not reports or advertisements. You’re sharing information with a friend or colleague – not giving a lecture to a hall full of bored students. Write in a conversational style, use a little humour when appropriate, and keep it light and easy to read.
- Make it easy to read. Most blogs include subheadings, bulleted lists, short paragraphs and other elements that make them easier to read. Remember that a big block of text on a computer screen is physically hard to read, so make it easier!
- Consider the topic of your blog posts carefully. Business blogging should establish you as an expert in your field. So, share your knowledge! Answer questions that you get often.
There’s an art to writing a great blog post, and it can take a little time to master it. If you find that you’re struggling, you can always hire a professional to get you started, while your content marketing strategy gains momentum. Or you could simply start writing. Nearly everyone gets better at blogging over time!
Consistency and Frequency
When it comes to digital marketing strategy, whether it’s social media or video marketing, there are two factors other than the style and substance that matter: consistency and frequency.
Both search engines and readers are more likely to pay attention to a blog that is regularly updated. There’s nothing less appealing than a blog page on a website that only has one or two posts that are many years old. Except for perhaps a page that still has the default placeholder text on it! To avoid this, try to have some content prewritten when you launch your new blog.
Some people do update their blogs every day, and that can be great for online visibility. But, even professional bloggers agree that posting between one and three times a week is actually enough to keep your blog fresh and interesting. Just make sure that you choose a frequency you can stick to. Consistency is more important than daily posting!
What to Do with Your Blog
Blogging is not like that old movie. If you build it, they won’t come. You have to tell people about your blog too if you want to get maximum bang for your marketing buck. There are several things you can do to market your blog:
- Use paid ads to direct traffic to your website or blog. This is especially useful if you’re just getting started!
- When you write the blog, post it to your social media You can even use automation tools to automatically add new posts. Some can be installed directly on your website, or you can use a third party service like Hootsuite.
- If you have an opt-in email list, send a list of your latest blog posts in your monthly newsletter.
- Create an RSS feed for your blog and give readers the option of subscribing to your feed.
- Make sure that all of your blog posts are search engine optimised, so they are as discoverable as possible.
- Include a link to your blog in your email signature.
- Add social sharing buttons to your post and consider allowing comments on your posts.
Great blog posts that are useful and interesting will be shared by readers. They will link to them, tell their friends about them, and share them on their own social media accounts too. So even if you use some of these marketing tools to grow your blog readership, remember that it all starts with high-quality content.
Where to Find Blog Post Ideas?
If you’re like most people, sitting down to stare at an empty screen or page is daunting, to say the least. So many people don’t blog because they just don’t know what to say. But the good news is that blogging for business is a little easier. You already know the topic, because you do it for a living, and it’s easier than you think to come up with blog post ideas for a company blog.
A good place to start is to make a list of questions your customers often ask you. If they’re asking them in person, they’re asking them online too, and if you’re answering them, you’re going to get qualified traffic that is already looking for the products and services you sell. That type of qualified traffic is much easier to convert into paying customers!
Before you start blogging, you should also use a tool like the Google Ads keyword planner or Ubersuggest to do keyword research. You should be looking for keywords and phrases that are specific to your business, that have a moderate to high about of traffic, and moderate to low competition. Once you have a list of these, you can also use them to create topics and titles for blog posts.
When you do develop blog post ideas, remember that lists, how to posts and posts that answer questions are some of the best options. People who use the internet to find information are looking for answers, and if you’re the website that is giving them the information they need, you will get more traffic, and in turn, more business.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
Creating interesting, relevant content is a great way to get more traffic to your website, establish yourself as an expert, and turn casual visitors to your website into loyal fans of your brand. There are businesses blogging around the world, using content marketing to improve their conversion rates, build inbound links, and create a steady stream of posts for their social media channels.
But, as you can see from this article, there’s a little more to it than just sitting down to start writing and hope for the best.
If you’re still a little overwhelmed about blogging for marketing, there are many options available to outsource some or all of the process to a company like Polkadot Communications.
You could hire a professional to create a blogging strategy and calendar, and then do the writing yourself. Or you could create your own strategy, and then outsource the writing. Or, if you don’t have the time to learn how to use blogging for marketing at all, you could hire someone to take care of the whole process for you.
Content marketing and inbound marketing, in general, have been proven to offer the best ROI for your marketing budget, and whatever blog posts you do create, and share will continue to work for you as long as they are online. This type of marketing is cumulative, flexible, and very cost effective. You can start small and grow your blogging program as your budget increases, and there’s nothing else that lets you speak directly to your customers quite like blogging does.
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