In today’s business environment, many companies struggle to stand out properly, especially in the overcrowded digital space. Even so, there is still vast opportunity for those who ask the right questions, look in the right places, and are willing to invest smartly in solutions that solve problems. But, just how do you go about explaining why your solution is better than the rest? Since everyone else is saying the same thing, it does make attracting new users harder. Or, is it?
Once largely relegated to the realm of youngsters who wanted to voice their opinions online, blogging has today become one of the most effective ways for companies, organizations and businesses to “humanize” their brand. That’s provided it’s done consistently with a strategy, plan and tact. Unfortunately, the benefits of blogging are still lost on many. A lot of people think that the practice is merely a fad that came and is on its way out. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Consider the fact that websites with a blog are likely to have a whopping 434% more number of indexed pages than websites without them. In addition, 77% of internet users read blogs, with more than 67% of B2B marketers reporting that blogs generate 60% more leads.
All this means that not only does having a blog spark more interest in would-be and potential customers and consumers, but they make websites (and the brand or company they represent) rank better in search engine results. Simply put, you really shouldn’t ignore it.
Business blogging 101
Blogs are essentially short form content — and in the context of our discussion, usually about business and industry topics that are related to the company publishing it. Business blogging is done with the express intent of achieving the business interests of the company. This stands in contrast to personal blogging that is done for its own sake and may or may not be used as an advertising platform. A business blog sits atop of a company’s marketing/sales funnel and is responsible for finding persons who may be interested in the company’s solutions.
Business blogging is best thought of as an ancillary for a company’s business and marketing activities. It is ideally used to drive and convert targeted internet traffic into more concrete sources of additional revenue. The main goal is to stimulate users and potential customers to become more aware of your brand, generate buzz and conversation about your products and what you stand for as a company.
Remember that customers today also link their spending to a brand’s image. A study released by global outsourcing firm Accenture shows that consumers no longer make decisions based solely on a company’s products or how these products are priced. Customers today also put a lot of premium on brand equity, and very much prefer brands that support their own personal values.
What makes blogging important and why should you have your own business blog?
But the short of it is that businesses today NEED to blog (it isn’t just some fad you’re riding on) and business blogging makes all the difference in making a business more recognizable, relatable and visible. Here are some of the advantages that business blogging presents…
1. Drives traffic to your website by improving search engine rankings.
Search engines value fresh, updated information. So, when a user types in a certain phrase or keyword in a search engines, it prioritize and shows them the latest content in their rankings. Regular blogging gives businesses the opportunity to allow Google and other search engines to index all the new content they are publishing, making your blog and business all the more more visible to users.
When other sites and content link to your articles, it helps your blog become even more visible to both the search engines and viewers. The more visible you are, the greater the likelihood you’ll be referenced, which further builds your brand and reputation as an expert and specialist in your industry.
In addition, blogging has the potential to significantly increase traffic to your website. As long as you keep posting quality, original content regularly, users and readers will come back to see what new stuff you’ve come up with.
Finally, since blogging allows you to share interesting, actionable information that people will find interesting, it is more likely to be shared on social media, increasing your visibility and potentially attracting new customers.
2. Helps build rapport with both current and prospects.
Blogging also increases engagement with both old and new customers. Having a better pulse of the what the current market requires will help you come up with better ideas to create content and address said requirements. Blogging also helps you anticipate — or even influence future trends customers might follow.
Blogging helps a business build more trust with customers and consumers, especially if your content is responsive to issues that address your customers’ real problems. Continue finding ways to help them, and they will continue to use your blog as a resource.
Consider this: A user searches on Google for an answer to his / her question (one that’s related to your industry and / or service). When a user come across the answer to their question on your site, courtesy of a blog post, they can trust you more, which can help you win a subscriber. Informed customers armed with data from your business blog will also be more familiar with what you have to offer, making any conversation or sales transaction with them much more efficient and pleasant for all parties involved.
A company’s sales arm also benefits from business blogging because they have a ready archive of references they can use to address customer concerns and questions. Your customers will also walk away with a good image of your company and may very well become your brand advocates provided you dedicate your blog to helping them.
3. It’s good in the long-run, too.
While the short-term effects are usually immediately obvious, as time passes, a blog post continues to generate leads. A blog post when online can continually help you get more business in the door for years on end. As you publish more, the combined effect of all you posts helps you gain more organic (read free), targeted traffic in the door at a faster clip without any additional effort on your part.
You can also simply add more information to your older posts to make them more relevant and current. Hubspot calls the technique “optimizing the past” where old blog content is tweaked a little to make it more up-to-date, again driving traffic and visibility with minimal effort (because most of the content is already complete).
Blog examples for business: Best practices
Naturally, there is the right way to go about business blogging and a wrong way. Business blogging may be a bit overwhelming at first, but the benefits it brings are significant and last a long time. Having the right approach and the right mentality to tackle such an undertaking will be key to that initiative’s success. Consider the following ideas…
1. Put a premium on quality and originality.
Gone are the days when search engines just needed as much new keyword-stuffed content as possible. No one really benefited from this kind of practice. Fluffy and meaningless content is largely snubbed by customers as opposed to original work that users haven’t seen before.
This is why it is important to have a business blogging strategy in place. Readers naturally gravitate towards content they haven’t seen before, and one which tries to solve problems they are facing. Your plan should cover what topics can be featured in the blog as well as how to present them to readers.
2. Define how you measure the effect of your blogging practices.
Ask yourself first about what the purpose of your blog is. That way, you can better determine the metrics you’ll be needing to measure your blog’s success. This’ll also help you spot mistakes along the way. You can look at things like website traffic, user engagement (especially on social media), shares, backlinks, etc.
3. Organize your content.
Preparation is key to an effective blogging strategy. You cannot expect to rehash and reuse topics often, lest you lose your readership. The key is to plan the topics you are going to write about, and develop a strategy that spreads out the subject matter you are going to tackle. While it is important to stick to the plan you’ve created, it also pays to keep an ear open for timely trends that would warrant a little adjustment to the schedule every now and then.
Try to look at things like hits, traffic and trending news to decide what kind of topics to write about. You can also ask for input from readers and users to see what kinds of content they want to read about on your business blog. If you have multiple people who have bylines on the blog, readers may also have a preferred columnist or writer, so be sure to factor in those things as well when you organize and plan your content.
4. Design, look, and feel matters. A LOT.
It’s easy to say that “people don’t come to the blog for the design, they come for the content”, but that’s just a lazy cop out. Sure, there’ll be readers who don’t care much for the look and feel of your business blog, but chances are, you can increase that readership significantly by making your content easy to access and well, nice to see.
Don’t take our word for it. A group called the Design Council took a look at the portfolios of 63 companies that were traded on the FTSE (Financial Times Stock Exchange) over a 10-year period. The study found that the brands and companies that paid better attention to design also performed better than their counterparts that didn’t. How much better? Design-oriented companies outperformed the rest by a whopping 200%.
A look at some of the most effective business blogs
A really good way to wrap this all up would be to take a look at some of the best blog examples for business. That way, you’ll be able to see these practices and principles in action. So here a few we found, listed in no particular order.
You might be familiar with Evernote as the intuitive journaling-slash-notetaking mobile application. It’s one of the most successful and most popular apps of its kind due to its intuitive user interface and features.
Taking a look at its blog, one sees a reflection of all the things that made the app successful — a good, clean, and simple yet striking design.
Care/Of is a vitamin supplements company that sends customized supplements to customers based on their particular health needs and lifestyle. The design again is simple and employs earthly tones to match the message of the company that champions a healthier and more organic lifestyle. The articles it publishes are also very simple, yet comprehensive — while it’s filled with very informative content, it’s also really easy to read and understand.
Hubspot is a software company that specializes in tools for marketing, sales and customer service. Again, it generates content that’s easy to read and digest, packed in a way that’s both attractive and easy to navigate. The “Most Popular” and “Editors’ Pick” stories are conveniently grouped together and the titles for the blog posts are clear and concise.
Hubspot uses these articles as a means to share information related to their industry and current and potential customer base, all of which are well-researched and very informative. Every post creates value for the brand and establishes its credibility as a leader in the space it operates in.
The Pioneer Woman is a successful lifestyle blog run by Ree Drumond. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a business blog, but make no mistake, Drumond’s simple, down-to-earth approach, style, and look, coupled with great rapport and engagement with her followers have translated into success for her various business endeavors, which include a cookbook and photography. Even her social media pages match the kind of image she’s created for her brand on the blog — a technique that a lot of businesses would do well to learn and use themselves.
REI is a popular outdoor store. But you wouldn’t need to guess what it was all about when you visit the blog — a first look all but screams “outdoors”. Their posts are easy navigate and all come with good, attractive photographs in the thumbnails. The posts themselves not only tackle general outdoor topics, but also contain news that may be relevant to their customers (and blog’s readers). This is proof that the brand has its ear to the ground and is keeping a lookout for subjects and issues that may affect their customers. So, if you’re someone who wants to know all about the outdoors, hiking and the like, REI’s blog is a pretty good source. After going though a couple of those posts, you’ll also likely be inspired to take a look at the products REI is selling. Now that’s effective business blogging!
The final word
There you have it. A comprehensive look at business blogging, complete with examples of some of the best blogs online. In today’s very dynamic and ever-changing markets, customer preferences and operating environments, business blogging can be a very effective way to not only get your message out there, but add value by providing consumers with information that’s relevant to them.
Business blogging works for all sorts of businesses. There’s always something you can write about that your typical advertising channels won’t permit. Blogging is where you can let your hair down and talk to your prospects in a personable way. Blogging is also more cost effective when compared to other growth and marketing initiatives, especially considering the fact that your posts will be up there permanently. Provided you did a good job creating stellar, useful and interesting posts that you know your audience will love, you can count on them to drive targeted traffic by the boatloads.