Why Blogs Are Critical To Business 2013

13 Actionable Business Blog Tactics [Research]

The Year of the Blog - 3 Reasons You Need a Blog NowWhile blogs have been around since the late 1990s (weblogs anyone?), they’ve started gaining increased importance for business. Previously considered a cost of doing business, blogs when done well are cost effective marketing tools for driving lead generation and sales.

Blogs are critical to businesses

According to Hubspot’s research, almost three out five marketers rated blogs as critical or important to their business in 2012.  Over a third of marketers said that blogs had become more important over the last six months. Blogs are critical or important to 59% of businesses

3 Marketing shifts account for blogs’ increased importance

Three major marketing shifts account for the increased salience of blogs in today’s marketing mix.

  1. Blogs meet consumers’ increased need for content marketing. Consumers spend 11.5 hours per day consuming media according to eMarketer of which 90% is digital. (Note: here’s more research on content consumption from Performics.) And, they seek an on-going stream of fresh content in a variety of formats to meet their voracious appetites for educational and entertaining information across their smartphones, computers and tablets. Blogs are the backbone for a strong content marketing plan. (Here’s how to turn your blog into an effective content marketing machine.)
  2. Blogs are necessary as a by-product of the maturing social media ecosystem. Since most business-oriented organizations have a presence on one or more of the top social media networks (Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn), they need to continually fuel their presence with their own non-promotional content. Blogs provide an owned social media outlet that provides this content, allows social sharing and offers a forum for conversation via guest blog posts and comments.
  3. Blogs support search optimization. Blogs provide keyword-rich content that answers customer questions. Additionally through the use of blog post links and integration into your main website, blogs improve search optimization.

13 Actionable business blogging tactics

Here are thirteen actionable blogging tactics to ensure your blog is on course to support your business, regardless of whether you’re a B2C, B2B, not-for-profit or solopreneur.

  1. Know your content marketing, social media and blogging goals. They should be specific and measurable. Further, they must be aligned with each other as well as with your business objectives.
  2. Define the target audience for your blog content. One of the major reasons blogs can be less effective than they should be is because the content doesn’t target specific prospects or customers. Again this should be integrated with your overall marketing plans. Developing marketing personas and social media personas can help bring your target audience into focus. The goal of your blog content to answer customer questions and provide content to fuel your social media efforts.
  3. Keep your content on topic. To increase blog effectiveness, focus your posts on information that meet your audience’s needs. This means tailoring and positioning your content for your specific audience. This consistency helps build an audience because they know what to expect.
  4. Incorporate your blog into your organization’s website. If you’re using your blog to support your firm’s inbound marketing, integrating it’s url into your main website’s URL is important ( http://example.com/blog  or  http://blog.example.com ). This helps branding and search optimization. Further, ensure that it’s easy to find your blog from your main website’s navigation. Likewise, make it simple to find your main website and company information from your blog.
  5. Integrate your organization’s branding into your blog. Think beyond your logo. Incorporate colors, typography, images, content layout. (Here’s a full list of blog design elements.)
  6. Tell your firm’s stories. Don’t make up fairy tales about your firm, work with the information, stories and history you have. Since consumers don’t remember a pile of facts, use stories to position your firm so people remember your business when they’re in purchasing mode
  7. Sex up your content with blog eye candy. Don’t leave your blog content without visual focus. At a minimum, add an image or photo to attract and retain reader attention. Add images, video, audio and presentations to your blog.
  8. Optimize your content. Don’t underestimate your blog’s contribution to search optimization. Focus each article on a non-company keyword phrase. (Here are search suggestions.)
  9. Trick out your blog content. Don’t expect potential readers to slog through big blocks of uninterrupted text. Instead break your content into bite size pieces that readers can grasp quickly. Use bulleting and bolding.
  10. Link your blog posts to appropriate product. Don’t assume readers leaving your blog will actively seek your product purchase page. Make it easy for them by associating your blog posts with specific product and a call-to-action.
  11. Create an editorial calendar. Don’t expect the blogging fairy to  magically create posts. You must develop a set of regular columns and other features to provide structure for writers and readers.
  12. Share your blog content across platforms. Don’t leave content distribution to your blog visitors. Proactively distribute your blog posts across social media venues as well as internal media such as feeds, emailings, newsletters and other communications. Much of this sharing and distribution can be automated with third party plugins and apps.
  13. Track blog results. Don’t forget to measure your blog’s effectiveness. Track traffic, lead generation and sales, and reduced search and customer service expense. (Here’s how to associate your business blog with metrics.)

Remember, blogs provide the best home base for your content marketing, social media sharing and search optimization. To be effective, you must create strong content that’s aligned with your business goals, publish it regularly and promote it effectively.

If you have a blog for your business, what tactics have you found to be most effective and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: Heidi Cohen


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