Blogging has been around long enough now for every business owner serious about growing their business to know they need to be doing it. Yet while many businesses have a blog, not a lot do much with it. SEO Tribunal found that, “every month, WordPress users publish about 91.8 million new posts and produce 48.9 million new comments”. They also discovered that, “6.7 million people publish blogs on blogging websites, while another 12 million write blogs using their social network”. Those are some huge numbers.
Yet according to www.hostingtribunal.com just “1 in 3 bloggers monetizes her or his online activity, and about 10% are making over $10,000 per year. The lucky few, or more precisely the top 0.6%, are raking in a whopping $1M+ annual earnings.” Clearly the number of people making their blog work for them is not so huge in comparison to the number of active blogs in existence. So why on earth are some people so late to the party? Well, it’s time consuming for one. It’s thought that of all of those blogging, 80% still do not outsource blogging efforts. And it’s one thing finding the time to keep up a blog, but it’s another working out how to generate traffic, convert that traffic into leads and the leads in customers.
Many business owners, service businesses in particular, are still sticking with traditional sales methods such as phone calls and referrals. The odd newsletter, perhaps. Referrals are strong lead sources; one to one contact is very much a numbers game. Equally time consuming. It’s common for small businesses to employ at least one sales rep to manage that activity.
Instantly it’s understandable then, if you don’t feel you can write, or you’re too busy to write, you might decide that rules you out of the blogging game. Especially if you’re not aware of the support available. Why hire a sales rep to sit there making cold calls all day every day and rely heavily on referrals, but not outsource to a content writer to produce stunning content that brings in fresh, qualified leads that convert? The other reason business owners miss out on the amazing benefits of blogging is a lack of awareness as to what, exactly, those benefits are. This article lets you in on not only the what blogging can do to boost your business marketing efforts, but also how you can achieve those results with your own blog.
1. Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a pretty lengthy topic in and of itself but in a nutshell, there are three main pillars to SEO. According to SEO Consultant Barry Adams and the State Of Digital blog amongst other reputable sources, they are:
Relevance refers to fresh, relevant content, keywords, blog structure, layout and images. All of the major search engines are love fresh, original content and blogging is one of the most straightforward and inexpensive methods for a business to create this.
When a business creates blog posts consistently, they are constantly providing the likes of Google, Bing, Yahoo and the others with fresh content to index (Source: CBO blog).
Keywords are the words that consumers will use to search for the types of services or products that your business offers. You can use the most relevant keywords within your blog content to facilitate those searches. your bog will be easier to find. However a word of caution; do not impair the reader experience by filling your blog with keywords to the point where it’s hard to read. Readability is key. Plugins such as Yoast for WordPress will help you improve your SEO rank by scoring your keyword use, metadata such as your blog description and readability.
Authority refers to the standard of your blog content itself. Your blog alone is not enough to rank well in search results, according to State Of Digital’s article on the topic. In order to be seen as a trusted source, include links to other trusted websites as well as internal links to other parts of your own site. Internal as well as external linking together improve the authority level of your blog.
To maximise the SEO benefits of this altogether, find the contact details of those whose content you link to, let them know you’ve done it and include the link to your article with their content/site in it. This will increase the number shares and likes of your article. Another way to increase your authority through blogging is to guest post, and send your content to aggregate sites for them to share. If you are in the marketing space, then Zest is an excellent content sharing platform.
2. Convert Traffic Into Leads
Traffic refers simply to the number of visitors to your page or site. Leads are what those visitors become once your content has hooked them and reeled them in. How you quantify those leads is up to you and dependent upon your goals. It might be the number of new names and contact details coming into your database from your blog. It could be the number of returning visitors, or the number of enquiries quoting your blog or an internet search as the source.
However you measure your leads, think about the customer journey from their perspective:
- A visitor clicks through to your website
- The visitor reads your great blog article down to the bottom and sees a call-to-action for a free offer i.e. a download, mini course or discovery call
- The visitor clicks the call-to-action and is taken to a landing page, which contains a form for them to fill in with their contact details
- They then fill out the contact form, submit their information, and receive the free offer.
If you scroll down in this blog post, you’ll see a call-to-action link. CRM tool Hubspot, which has one of the most successful marketing blogs out there, say that 99.9% of the blog posts they publish have call-to-action buttons. Check out this one, which is the call-to-action button on the post I’ve referenced in this article, for example:
You can then either pass those leads to your sales team to nurture and close, or nurture them with a responsive yet automated email sequence. Or both, of course!
3. Develop Customer Relationships
Once you begin a formal engagement with a new or existing customer, your Number 1 goal is to create unquestionable and ongoing value. It is necessary for happy customers, and everything that comes from that relationship. Their lifetime value, in monetary terms. For example, happy customers refer and they also buy again and again. So customer engagement is an immensely important element of your business development, as well as your online marketing and branding strategy.
Blogging provides the opportunity for you to connect with your existing and potential customers in a different, more conversational way. As marketing agency CBO points out, “It is a great way to build trust with your target audience through high quality content that they find relevant”.
Your blog should also include an active comment section for this purpose. It gives blog visitors a chance to feed back to you as well as engage with each other. This helps them to get even more information and meaning from the content you provide. It also helps you. Comments on your blog allow you understand more about your target audience – their concerns, challenges, perceived opportunities – and respond to them in person. The more you and they interact, the more you increase their sense of connection and loyalty. Importantly, your SEO and organic reach on social media platforms is boosted by interactions so the more comments, the bigger and better your tribe.
All blog posts on The Write Life have comments turned on and with the high quality content they put out, they’re getting hundreds of comments per post! This one on free writing competitions, for example, has 393:
A small side note though: as your content becomes visible to more and more people, you will experience the dreaded haters. Don’t worry about them! Seriously. In fact, respond to them, too. Not to have it out over your lovingly constructed blog which is supposed to promote your business, create value for the people taking the time to visit and show you off a bit. Instead you want to help that person to see that you’re simply trying your best to serve and they could perhaps give you a break. Empathise with how they’re feeling, but stand your ground. Often, they’re surprised to even get a personal response and will end up apologising! Others can then see that you care and are confident in what you’re putting out there.
4. Establish Your Business As An Industry Leader
Regardless of the size of your business, written content in all forms is THE way forward for establishing yourself and your business as an industry leader in 2019 and beyond. It is how you put your own stamp on your niche in a world of saturated markets.
In time, posting blogs that are helpful and informative on a regular, consistent basis can make you the “go to” resource in your particular niche within your industry, which will subsequently lead to more enquiries and higher conversion rates (Source: CBO blog). As the amount of good quality content you produce increases, it will also help you write that book, the ultimate authority piece, and the only permanent marketing collateral.
Blogging is not, therefore, a key to overnight success. Like all success, it’s a skill you must master and it does take time. But once you’ve got the hang of it, do it regularly and for long enough and it pays dividends. The Write Business Results blog – a post on which you’re reading right now – is full of immensely high standard content, but still far from perfect. As I write this, I have two developers working on the site’s load speed – the more content that goes on there, the more work the site needs to handle it – and I’m experimenting with plugins to help sharing (point Number 6 in this article) and improve the overall reader experience.
These are things I will keep focussing on and continually improving and refining so I don’t foresee an end date to that activity. But my point is that through implementing everything I’m writing about here, the blog has gone from 0 visitors (bar those who check out the site to make a buying decision) to up to 950 in a day and 15,748 all-time views in just 15 days (which is when I first started researching this article).
That’s insane growth. But it’s simply the result of study then implementation. Follow the steps I’m sharing here and you can expect a similar outcome with your own blog.
5. Connect People To Your Brand
What business doesn’t want to increase brand awareness? There’s only so much of it you can achieve by posting on social media. It might be easier to do a quick Tweet or Facebook post, still something in a LinkedIn group, but it’s also less effective as a standalone strategy. Social media posts are only visible for a few seconds each. Then someone else’s content comes along and buries it. Without something heftier for your growing fan base to follow up with, you’ll lose them.
Brand awareness is an really important element of your marketing strategy that you can’t afford to miss out on. Writing and posting great blogs helps you to show your followers the more human side of your business. You can share your values, your mission, standard, client stories, the message behind the company logo, your company’s story as well as engage existing and prospective clients in a way that is hard to achieve through other marketing tactics. The consistency and presence of your brand, with its unique look and voice, is meaningful to people in its own right.
Not only that, but also by creating and sharing blog content that is valuable, original and interesting, your potential customers get to see not just your knowledge and expertise, but also your passion and unique perspective. You may have heard the old saying, “People don’t care how you know until they know much you care”. Creating a brilliant blog is the perfect way to show people who you are and what you’re about so they can connect with you and your business based on values and trust – the recipe to a long lasting professional relationship. It will always beat the transactional approach to doing business and will help you stand apart from your competitors.
Blogging gives you a unique and highly valuable opportunity to share your voice and personality, humanise your brand, build up trust and increase your brand’s “likeability”, according to Jayson DeMers writing for Forbes.
6. Support Your Social Media Efforts
Reaching people where they hang out rather than waiting for them to come to you will always be the most sensible lead generation strategy.
Social media platforms are abundant in 2019 and provide anyone with internet access multiple opportunities to access the content why want and need, 24/7. And what’s more, there are various tools to aggregate your social media output, such as Buffer, Triberr and Hootsuite.
One of the most powerful benefits of blogging is the opportunity it creates for thousands of others to share the link to your blog. To increase the ‘share-ability’ of your blog, use plugins like Monarch to position attractive social share buttons within your blog posts and elsewhere on your site. Monarch is known for not slowing down your site, unlike some of the others.
As the CBO blog points out, “This in turn creates the potential for viral traffic and exponential market growth. With so many different sharing platforms available, visitors can share the direct link to the blog, tweet it, or email it to a friend. This is the epitome of free marketing.”
7. Drive Long-Term Results
A big reason so many businesses see little success with their blog is they give up too soon, or they don’t put out enough regular, high quality content. The key to blogging is consistency. Apart from the many direct benefits to your business of blogging mentioned above, an indirect one is the compound effect.
Once your blog has been indexed by search engines, it can always be found and read. This links to the ‘relevant’ SEO pillar mentioned at the start of this article. Periodically go back through your previous blog posts and make any tweak for updates you need to to see them relevant. This includes amending now out of date information such as dates and facts, and making sure the links included still work. But you can also now insert links to content you’ve created since publishing, adding value to your newer posts and older ones at the same time. Your blog will also continue to be more searchable for potential customers.
For example, let’s say you sit down for a couple of hours today to write and publish a new blog post. Assuming you’ve got the components of a great blog in place, having followed the points in this article as a starter, let’s say that blog post gets you 200 new views and 20 new leads. Let’s then say you get another 100 views and 10 leads tomorrow and the next day as a few more people find it on social media – you might stagger where and when it’s published so that it’s drip fed out to your networks over the course of 2-3 days, and continue promoting it throughout the week.
Your subscribers will also get it via email if you send it out or include it in a newsletter. Others will find it as they get caught up on their RSS feed. But after a few days, most of the visibility from that post dies down as it’s replaced by mounds of new content from other sources all across the internet. Still, you’ve bagged yourself 300 views and 30 leads.
Right? Well, not quite. It’s not done yet.
That blog post is now indexed and ranking in search engines. That means for days, weeks, months, and years to come, as long as you keep it updated for SEO purposes, you can continue to bring in traffic and leads:
So your blog is pushing leads through to your business the whole time it’s out there in the pubic domain. The effort you put in today can turn into hundreds of thousands of views and leads in the future, as Hubspot report. In their own research, they discovered that approximately 1 in every 10 blog posts end up being compounding blog posts:
To me (and hopefully to you), this massively demonstrates the scalability of business blogging. Not to mention, the further uses you can fund for that content. Books, podcasts, new spin-off blog posts, social media posts, videos, voice memos and newsletters are all examples of the different formats your blog can lend itself to.
“So, why can’t I just do a couple of posts and leave them running in the background?”
I hear you, it’s a logical question given the points I just made. However, going back to the points about SEO, your site needs regular, original, authoritative content to keep it buoyant in the rankings. So you need to keep it up to see these results. Otherwise your blog posts will decay rather than compound.
The results may not be immediate but over time, you will be able to rely on a nicely predictable amount of traffic from your blog and leads into your business, without additional resource or investment. Just like with a business book, with a blog the work to generate that traffic and those leads is already done. The difference between the two is the consistent output. A book works for you over and over again with no or very few updates needed. A successful blog requires regular maintenance and output.
If you’d like the benefits of a blog in your business but don’t have the time to commit, I may be able to help. I provide done-for-you blog and book support to busy business owners. Send in your enquiry via our secure form to find out how that might work for your business.