Thursday, 24 April 2014

Blogging Can Drive Your Business… If You Know How

The internet is used by millions of people every single day. They’re browsing the web, taking in all sorts of information, hanging out on social media and shopping for the best deals.

They are your target market. You know they’re there, but you just can’t get them to notice you and your website; how do you attract their attention?

You can advertise, sure, but that cuts into your budget quite a lot. You can use social media (and probably already are), but again, it’s hard to attract their attention because you’re limited to what you can share and talk about.

This is especially true for small startups and those branching out online for the first time. The internet can be a harsh and scary place (I know, I’ve been there!).

If you don’t have a blog, you’re traffic will suffer

The first thing you should be asking yourself in today’s online age is, “Does my business have a blog?”

If you’ve answered no, then where have you been?! According to QuickSprout, companies with active blogs receive 97% more leads, and 61% of consumers feel better about a company that has a blog.

For full infographic, visit QuickSprout

Even well-established and recognised brands use company blogs. They don’t necessarily need to. But they still do. And here’s why:

1. Blogging increases traffic to your site, and all that traffic has the potential to be turned into customers.

If you’re providing valuable content, and are promoting that content properly (don’t worry, we’ll discuss in detail this further down), then you’re going to receive a large amount of traffic that you definitely wouldn’t have reached through advertising alone.

All of this traffic has the potential to be converted into customers.

2. Blogging is a form of free advertising

Your blog is your very own platform to say whatever you want to. You can promote your latest products, share your industry expertise and give your business a personality.

3. Blogging helps with your SEO efforts

Each new blog post is another indexed page on your site. This tells Google, and other search engines, that your site is active, which is one of Google’s factors when it comes to ranking your site.

What’s more, blog posts allow you to target and rank for certain keywords. This doesn’t mean writing a blog post with the sole purpose of keyword stuffing – that will get Google’s attention for all the wrong reasons.

4. Blogging makes your Social Media efforts a lot easier

Blogs and social media work in partnership with each other, to make your job a lot easier.

It can be difficult to know how to tackle social media; finding interesting and valuable content is a pain, and when you do find something of value, you ultimately end up driving traffic away from your site and your business.

However, if you’re the one posting interesting and valuable content on a blog that you own, not only are you keeping the traffic in your ball court, you’re also giving people another valid reason to follow your social media pages in the first place.

“But I have a blog, and I haven’t had any of these benefits”

Having a blog is a great start, but that’s just the beginning. The next questions you have to ask yourself, are “Is my business blog active?”, and “Am I promoting my blog posts effectively?”

It’s all very well and good to have a blog these days, but if you just publish a couple of posts every now and then sit back and wait for the traffic to pour in, you’re doing it wrong.

Top 5 Common Business Blogging Mistakes

Mistake #1: Not promoting your content

How easy is it for people to find your blog? Do they even know you posted some really cool industry tips yesterday?

Promoting your blog and your blog posts is essential for getting traffic and reaching out to new audiences. People aren’t going to come to you. You need to go to where they hang out online and place your awesome content right in front of them:

Promote your blog posts on social media (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon etc.)
Join Google+ communities and Facebook groups
Use hashtags (#)
Reach out to influencers in your industry, asking them to comment/share your post
Guest blog on relevant and authoritative sites in your industry

Mistake #2: Inconsistency

You need to be regular with your blog posting. Decide how many blog posts you can write a week and stick to it.

A consistent blog is an active blog (remember how much Google likes active sites?), and relays to your audience that you are dynamic and up to date.

As people learn your publishing schedule, they will become more likely to subscribe and/or follow you.

Mistake #3: Being too self-involved

Yes, do include your latest company news in your blog. But don’t make your business the only thing you talk about.

This is a huge mistake I see all the time, and the terrible truth is that no one cares.

The trick is to think about what your audience wants. Inspire them, share tips and information they can’t get anywhere else. Answer their burning questions and provide them with useful material.

Mistake #4: Boring design and layout

You need to make your blog posts look pretty. It may sound silly put like that, but if your blog posts contain no images, and have large chunks of text that haven’t been broken up, you’re going to see a high bounce rate.

If possible, use a featured image that is as engaging as possible. Avoid using logos and stock images if you can, and use sub-heading and bullet points to break up large paragraphs of text.

For full infographic, visit MDG ADVERTISING

Mistake #5: Missing the point

Remember why you started your blog in the first place? To increase traffic and by doing so, to increase your sales.

You need to convert your new audience, by using strong call-to-actions (CTAs).

A CTA is an image or line of text that prompts your traffic to literally take action and converts your audience to an engager or potential customer.

For some ideas and examples of effective CTAs, HubSpot has a great blog post that I’d recommend.

Start blogging today

Create a blog or look over your existing one
Decide how many posts you’ll make a week and when you will publish them
Brainstorm original post ideas that provide value to your audiences
Decide how and where you’ll promote your blog posts
Include a CTA

Remember, blogging won’t get you heaps of new traffic overnight, but after time you should notice an increase overall.

Blogging is only one branch of your marketing strategy, and won’t replace other traditional methods of advertising.

Got something to add? Disagree with one of my points? Comment below to share your experiences.

Louise Dickens is an experienced blogger with a degree in journalism, who currently works as a Content Marketer for Aptitude.


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