Does your business have a blog? If you’re like most businesses, the answer is no. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s research on blogging found that 23% of Fortune 500 companies and 37% of Inc. 500 companies had a blog in 2011, a decrease from 2010.
Examine the research, and you’ll find that 92% of businesses found blogs one of the most successful forms of social media, up from 86% in 2010. This should make you wonder the reason companies are cutting back on blogging. The answer is they didn’t. Rather, Inc. 500’s industrial composition changed in 2010 and 2011 toward more firms providing government services, a segment that blogs at 15%, compared with an overall average of 37%.
If you want to increase your business’ social media marketing effectiveness, persuade management to add a blog to your marketing mix with these seven reasons every business should blog, regardless of whether your firm is a business-to-consumer, business-to-business, nonprofit or solopreneur organization. (Need help starting? Here are 42 business-blog tips.)
- Provides visual eye candy. Think beyond text. Blogs distribute photographs, video and PDFs. Leverage the power of visual by using photos of your products, business, employees and customers. Actionable marketing tip: Optimize your images for search. Also, make images sharable so readers use them on photo-friendly social media websites, such as Pinterest.
- Answers customer questions. Face it: Prospects don’t buy until all of their questions are answered. Blogs remove sales objections and hurdles. Marcus Sheridan went one step further by blogging about price — his prospects’ biggest question — which enabled his pool company to expand during the economic downturn. Actionable marketing tip: Source questions from your customer-service department, and include a way for prospects to submit questions to your blog. (It’ll help you develop effective content.)
- Aids sales by putting products in context. Write blog posts about how to use your product or supply instructions, recipes or patterns that show and tell customers, rather than sell them. Actionable marketing tip: Incorporate links to a specific product page or a tailored landing page with a contextually relevant call to action. Optimize your purchase process to close the sale.
- Helps customers post-purchase. Many companies focus on answering customer questions to overcome purchase hurdles. They overlook the importance of making sure buyers can use their product effectively, whether it’s showing them in more detail how to put together a child’s toy or wear the latest fashion top. Actionable marketing tip: Use this opportunity to upsell customers to buy additional, related products. Alternatively, take advantage of this opportunity to engage as fans by showcasing their work. (Note: Many marketers overlook the potential to use social media for customer retention and upselling.)
- Supports social media with owned media. Social media feed on content marketing, creating an ever-increasing need. Blogs provide content to support the sales process. Use your blog as the hub of your social media strategy. Distribute the content to your social media presence. Actionable marketing tip: Consider the timing of your social sharing to maximize results. Enlist readers to share content through social-sharing buttons.
- Improves search-optimization cost effectively. By their structure, blogs support search optimization if integrated into your website. They contain keyword-rich content. Further, they include links to other parts of your blog and website, particularly product, and external links to other websites and blogs. Actionable marketing tip: Make sure each post is focused on a specific keyword phrase or two. This should be coordinated with your overall search strategy. (For more blogging SEO help, here’s what 15 experts say.)
- Provides owned 24/7 media option to distribute content. Blogs distribute your content more broadly through RSS and e-mail. Additionally, they build your e-mail house file and social media following so you’re prepared for a public relations flare-up. Actionable marketing tip: Build your blogging presence before you need it. It takes time for a business to get a sizable blog following.
Business blogging is an effective way to increase your social media marketing success. Even better, by integrating with the rest of your marketing initiatives, you can increase the efficiency of the rest of your marketing mix, including search optimization and e-mail marketing.
What hurdles does your business face when it comes to blogging? Let me know in the comments.