People are increasingly immune to old marketing techniques. Consumers have spam filters and caller ID and are constantly blocking out your company’s marketing messages. People are relying on the Internet, namely the search engines, blogosphere, and social media to get information on the new product or service they are thinking about purchasing. What this means is old marketing techniques — direct mail, trade shows, print ads and so on – are becoming less effective. You need to recalibrate your marketing program and engage with your customers where they are.
Consumers are out there reading, writing, and discussing your products, your company, and your industry, so participate in the discussion now! To engage with your potential customers, it’s essential that you and your company join the conversation. This doesn’t mean posting your marketing collateral in the comments section of a blog or discussion board. Rather, it means engaging in conversation with the people that are interested in your products.
Company blogs are the perfect opportunity to do this. They allow you to engage in a conversation with your customers while improving your web site’s search engine rank.
Business Blogging Benefits
There are three fundamental benefits to business blogging:
1. It positions yourself as a thought leader. With each blog post, you can express your ideas and thoughts on your industry and the trends that are affecting it. Essentially, you can position yourself as a go-to resource for your customers. It also helps you humanize your company — your prospects get a sense of who you are and you build credibility and trust with them.
2. It engages customers in a dialogue. A blog lets you to engage in a two-way dialogue with your customers and prospects by allowing readers to post comments and questions in response to your posts. A blog, because you post to it frequently, also keeps your prospects in constant contact with you. Unlike your company web site, which they might visit once, a reader will often subscribe to an RSS feed or email blast for your blog in order to read the newest article posted by you. This allows you to continuously communicate with your prospects and nurture your relationship with them until they are ready to take the next step.
3. It gets found in the search engines. Blogging supports search engine optimization (SEO) in a number of ways. First, every blog article is an SEO opportunity. Each blog post becomes its own web page that can be optimized for different relevant search terms to help you drive targeted traffic. Second, people typically will not link to a stagnant corporate web site, but many will link to an interesting and useful blog or blog post. A key factor in ranking well in search engines is the number of web sites that link to you, and blogging can help you get more links. Third, the search engines love a lot of fresh content. Newly published content on a blog shows the search engines that you are active, which benefits your web site’s reputation in the eyes of the search engines.
Key Aspects to Success
There are three key aspects to successful engagement in the blogosphere:
1. Reading: A first step in blogging should be reading other blogs. Search for relevant blogs on Technorati.com or Google and subscribe to other relevant blogs. Get an RSS Reader (such as Google Reader, My Yahoo!, or Bloglines) to help manage your subscriptions. RSS allows you to consume content how and when you want via an anonymous subscription. Spend some time each day reading the latest blog posts.
2. Commenting: The majority of blogs give people the opportunity to post comments or reactions to a post. Comments let an otherwise one-way communication to develop into a two-way conversation. Leaving comments is part of genuinely engaging in the blogosphere and can help you get noticed by bloggers and blog readers in your industry. This can help increase your visibility and possibly result in a blogger writing about you and linking to your blog; thus, increasing your reputation in the search engines.
When commenting, it is important to remember to add value to the article: Share an example or a point, add a useful link, disagree with the author, or ask a question. Go beyond simply saying “Great article! Check out my blog at blog.mycompany.com” — as that will likely be ignored and/or can be seen as spam. Also be sure to not post overly negative or insulting comments. If you strongly disagree with the post, make sure your comment is thoughtful and well balanced. You don’t have to agree with anyone, but you want to be respectful of others. You don’t want to make any enemies in the blogosphere!
3. Writing: Be authentic in your blog posts. Make an effort not to promote your company or products, but instead keep it conversational. To think of good topics for your blog, try to brainstorm some ideas with employees, read other company blogs or blogs in your industry, comment on industry trends, or answer frequent customer or prospect questions. People enjoy reading concise and helpful lists, and clicking on links that are applicable to the topic — consider posting a list of ideas, trends, thoughts, or include links to other valuable or interesting information. Consider your audience and use blog titles to draw people in. Funny articles do well in the blogosphere, while short and focused articles are great for search engine optimization for relevant keywords.
Finally, when you are ready to launch your blog and build readership, start by emailing friends and family and inviting them to subscribe. If you have an email newsletter, consider replacing it with your blog. Think about guest blogging opportunities for both you and other bloggers. Inviting guest bloggers to write articles for your blog will bring some of their readers to your blog, and opting to write for other blogs will offer you more exposure to a new set of readers. Promote your blog on social media sites like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Facebook, and LinkedIn. To build and maintain steady readership and continue your SEO efforts, blog at least once or twice a week. As blogging takes time, especially in the beginning, having multiple blog authors such as other executives and employees can add interest and divide the time commitment.
Once you have successfully launched your business blogging strategy, track and measure the results of your efforts. Make sure that your blogging software allows you to track and report on email and RSS subscribers over time, visitors and leads generated by your blog, search engine rank for relevant keywords, and you against your competitors. An effectively executed blogging strategy gives you the power to speak directly with your market and build your brand and search engine rank, helping you grow your business.