Businesses Benefit from Blogging
Blogging has moved from the Geek world into mainstream Internet Marketing. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon – Traditional Businesses, Government Entities, Musicians, Moms, Non-Profits – you get the idea. Why not integrate this huge marketing advantage into your business and marketing plan?
Blogging – Creating your Plan
Many just don’t know where to start. The whole idea is overwhelming and way outside of their comfort zone and knowledge base. The first step is to create a plan for your blogging efforts and map out your ideas for your blog. Many companies skip this step and find that they get lost, the blog looses focus, and ultimately they go back to creating a plan or they fail. Your plan needs to define what your end goals for the blog are: do you want to provide customer support, provide pre-sale information, provide general information, provide samples of your service/product, the range of how you can use a blog is unlimited, but the main goal needs to be planned. Mapping your ideas for the blog once the main goal is established provides a written map to keep the authors on track. This can be in the form of setting the main navigation and the main categories up ahead of publishing the blog. This will keep control of your main keywords and if all posts must fit within certain categories it will ensure that all authors stay on track.
Hosted Blogs (free blogs)
There are several ways to start blogging – they range from free to inexpensive. Here are some free places to set up a Blog:
Any of these blogging platforms are free to use – they all have slightly different features and benefits. Using one of these services will allow the business to “test the waters” before really jumping in. This will allow the business to see if they like blogging, if it will work for them, and find the right employee to undertake the task. These platforms are often referred too as “Hosted Blogs”. This means that the blogging company provides the blogging platform for free and also provides hosting for free. The main drawbacks in a system like these are limitations set by the hosting provider (can not monetize, limited plugins, limited themes, can not customise theme, etc). These limitations may not be a problem at first but as the blog grows they can become a huge issue. The second drawback is the url for your blog. Generally you cannot have the domain that you are wanting – they will be something like www.your company name.wordprss.com To get a custom domain you will need to purchase that separately. The advantage to these types of blogs are the cost is free. There is no risk involved. Once the business decides blogging is for them then it is suggested that the blog is moved to a self- hosted environment – this can be done without loosing the previous content.
Self Hosted Blogging Platforms
- Moveable Type
- Type Pad
Self hosting simply means that you are buying the hosting and the domain name for your blog. This cost is determined by the hosting company you choose to use. My costs are about $80.00 per year. I am sure there are slightly cheaper hosting options and I know there are hosting options that are more expensive. The advantages to a self-hosted blog are many. You have complete control over what the blog looks like and what content can be included. There are many more plugins that are available for use and thousands of themes. (Plugins are programs that are written to perform a specific task. They are easy to install and have been created and shared by web programmers world wide. They can add very specific functionality to your blog.) Also the main code for the blog platform is available to be customized and changed. This is something that you would need to have a “Techie” do or hire a web designer. Again this would have a cost attached but the advantage is the blog will have your same business look for marketing purposes and it can have whatever functionality your business requires. You will notice that some of the same companies are listed – these blogging platforms can be either hosted or self-hosted; the company provides both options. In the case of WordPress the free version is a www.WordPress.com and the self-hosted version can be found at www.WordPress.org.
Marketing reasons for Blogging
Blogging can great impact your online marketing success. Here are some of the reasons for implementing a Blogging Marketing Strategy:
- Increased Branding Exposure
- Better Organic Placement in the Search Engines
- Wider Variety of Keywords for Optimal Search Engine Placement (SEO)
- Blogs Interact with Social Media Sites
- Blogs Start and Continue Conversations with Your Business Target Market
- Place Your Company as the Expert in Your Field
Let’s take a look at these Marketing Strategies more in depth.
Increased Branding Exposure
Building trust and loyalty on the Internet is the key to your website success. Having your Blog branded the same as your Website and other Marketing Materials is crucial for building that trust. Your brand will become more well known as you build your blog and it becomes successful.
Better Organic Placement in the Search Engines
Organic search engine placement is the ultimate goal for all websites. Without Organic Placement your website will not be getting much exposure and very few visitors. Organic Search Engine Placement is simply having the search engine find your site and place it high in the results when someone types in some of your keywords. This is the Gold! This is free search engine placement and what companies pay huge dollars every year to achieve. Having and using a blog will help your company achieve good search engine placement without going to an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company to have them get your site ranked high. Ultimately this one fact can save your business thousands of dollars every year.
Wider Variety of Keywords for Optimal Search Engine Placement
It is hard to know what every person that is looking for your services will type into the search engines to find you or your competitors. By having a Blog you are automatically creating more keywords with every post. The content is changing and growing in volume and this automatically gives the search engine spiders more to index and therefore more to return to a potential customer when they are searching. You can believe that your competitor will be found more often if they have a blog – so why not your company be the one in your local industry to get the competitive advantage and start blogging?
Blogs Interact with Social Media Sites
Your blog will become the hub for all your social media efforts. Social Media are sites that large groups of people gather and share items of common interest. They range from general interests like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace to specific interests like LinkedIN (for business professionals), Ning sites (there is a Ning site for most niches) and other industry specific sites. These sites are interactive and all allow a profile of your business to be posted. All allow images, bios, and links while some will allow very interactive modules to be used. Most blogging platforms have text widgets (plugins) where code can be pasted into your blog. These can be used to connect whatever Social Marketing your business is doing back to your blog. This is a great way to drive traffic as well as get more exposure in the search engines. Social Media site profiles get ranked by the search engines and as long as they are linked to your blog and company sites then your company is also getting more search engine exposure.
Blogs Start and Continue Conversations with Your Business Target Market
Blogs allow for commenting. By writing articles that invite comments your company will start in interact directly with potential customers. A good practice to adopt is to respond to every comment that is allowed on the blog. Comments can be set for moderation – meaning they need to be approved before getting published to the company blog. I always suggest this is how comments are handled – your business is in control of the commenting this way. This filters out the spam comments that will be received. When approving comments do not delete a comment just because you do not like what is says or is not positive towards your business. Look at this as an opportunity to positively address a customers concern (others likely have the same concern) and get the conversation heading to a positive resolution. This shows customers that your company cares and will take an active part in customer service. Comments are also a great place to find subject matter for another post or article. They help your business understand where confusion is and how to market more effectively by being more clear in your message.
Place Your Company as the Expert in Your Field
Becoming the expert in your field is an ultimate goal of any blog. When a potential customer types a request into the search engine and they see your sites coming up multiple times it really sets your company apart form the crowd. If you are the expert it builds trust and makes getting the sale easier. It can also shorten the sales process greatly. By growing your blog, posting often, and creating great content your business will start to get known as the company to go to first. There are only positive reasons for becoming the industry expert – and two of them are increased sales and increased customer retention – both things that any business needs to focus on in order to grow and succeed.
Blogging is becoming an essential part of any businesses success online. It is a huge undertaking but also has huge rewards if done correctly. The Marketing Traditional Businesses blog is here for educating business owners about blogging and other online marketing strategies. For more specific step-by-step instruction feel free to check out the training section.