Blogging has long been an online marketing staple among businesses. In recent years, however, many businesses have focused on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But blogging can benefit businesses in ways those cannot. This article outlines five such methods.
1. Blogging Can Improve Search Engine Optimization
Someone once said that the word "blog" stands for "Better Listings On Google." I agree. Blogs lend themselves to the type of content search engines look for, and which they award with improved rankings, as follows.
- Blogs are primarily text-based.
- Due to frequent updates, blogs tend to get crawled by search-engine bots more quickly.
- Bloggers are natural link-builders.
2. Blogs Add a Personal Touch
Blogging consists of one person — or one company — communicating directly with consumers in an unfettered, unfiltered manner. In that sense, blogs are a more personal form of communication.
Someone who epitomizes this ethic is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt. Though Hyatt uses his blog to provide helpful tips — such as "5 Rules for More Effective Presentations" — he also uses it to share insights gleaned from his own life experiences.
For example, his post "How Differences With Your Spouse Can Make Your Marriage Stronger" says, "When I first met Gail [his wife], I was attracted to her precisely because she was different. Sadly, after a few years, these same differences started to annoy me. In fact, I began to think that my approach to live was right and hers wrong."
It's that type of transparent self-disclosure that has made Hyatt both a popular blogger and a respected leader. While I don't expect ecommerce merchants to talk about their marriages, sharing behind-the-scenes views of the company, personal anecdotes or, like Hyatt, life lessons are one way to provide that personal touch.
3. Blogs Help Build Brand
In his book, Get Slightly Famous, author Steven Van Yoder says blogs can benefit companies in several ways related to brand building, as follows.
- Differentiate from the competition.
- Position your focused message to your target audience.
- Deliver your message clearly and quickly.
- Project credibility.
- Strike an emotional chord.
- Create strong customer loyalty.
To achieve these results, your blog needs to stand out. Simply using it to talk about products will not suffice, at least not without some unique angle.
One ecommerce company that consistently hits the mark is online jewelry retailer Ice.com. Its Sparkle Like the Stars blog connects stories about celebrities to product mentions.
One post, "Lea Michele's People's Choice Earrings," addressed Lea Michele being voted the favorite television comedy actress at the People's Choice Awards. Included in the post was a reference to the earrings she wore during the event, accompanied by a hyperlink to a similar style of earrings in Ice.com's store.
The focus on celebrities is an enticement used by Ice.com to attract consumers while also getting them interested in its products.
4. Blogs Attract Media Attention
A number of years ago, as a marketing consultant, I received a call from the Philadelphia Enquirer, a respected newspaper. The reporter told me she was researching an article on business blogging. She had read some of my blog posts and assumed I could shed some light on the topic. She contacted me — not my competition — thanks to my blog.
Journalists scour the blogosphere looking for source material. Therefore, by writing a blog, you improve your company's chance of getting media attention.
5. Blogs Exploit Marketable Niches
Indium, a manufacturer of electronic assembly materials for companies like Intel, uses blogging as its primary marketing strategy.
Through the use of multiple, niche-topic blogs, the company has (a) distinguished itself as a thought leader; (b) experienced an increase in opt-in leads; and (c) reduced marketing expense.
Indium's director of marketing communications, Rick Short, takes a pragmatic view of blogging. "Being a thought leader is being considered the best, most authoritative, trusted source. It means being the ‘go to’ people," he said. "And it all leads to increased sales, profits ... ."
Brian Solis is the author of Engage, a popular business-marketing book that was published last year. He said, "After much personal research and experience, I've found that a genuine, helpful, humanized blog, combined with the art of cultivating and building relationships, can forge real connections, shape perception, improve customer service, and also enhance brand loyalty, reach, and resonance."
If Solis is correct, a blog can become the nexus of your online conversation, which then extends to social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
There are plenty of reasons to use blogs as a marketing tool for your business. Blogs help with search engine optimization, building trust among consumers by providing a personal touch, brand awareness, gaining media attention, and penetrating marketable niches.