When you hear the word blogging, what comes to mind? Do you think of online musings about fashion, makeup, or maybe the latest about a hot new video game? Alternatively, do you think of something more business-oriented, such as information from a bank about why it might be a good time to refinance a loan or consolidate debt?
Blogging has become an effective communication channel for business, whether business-to-consumer, or business-to-business. Business blogging has changed and grown exponentially over the last few years, and has become a standard element of the business marketing toolkit.
Blogging, in its most traditional form remains a popular interest in the web. From Blogger to Tumblr to WordPress, you can find blogs on nearly any topic from puppies in fuzzy sweaters to libertarianism to weather patterns.
Over time, there’s been a maturing of the art of blogging, and the lines have become blurred between genuine news outlets and blog sites, with many news sites running a blog concurrent with the day’s breaking news.
Corporations are turning to blogs as a means of informing readers, making announcements, sharing links to relevant content and influencing SEO through the use of keywords. A blog affords a business a chance to build community, connect more deeply with customers, evolve the business and its relationships, humanize the company and drive sales.
In 2014, 39% of European companies identified blogging as a way they had acquired new customers, per a HubSpot survey . The survey also found that 49% of businesses acquired new business through social media, which was often linked from blog posts.
25% of companies indicated the cost per lead acquired through blogging was below their average. The power of blogging, in its ability to generate leads, differs according to whether you’re targeting consumers or other businesses.
Building a Reader Base
Establishing a base or community of avid readers is the goal of any blog, especially with B2B blogging from thought leaders and industry influencers.
Thought leaders who influence consumer opinion tend to be found in larger companies, in spaces that are a natural fit for consumers. Such spaces may include the review sections of online magazines or newspapers.
One influential blogger regularly answers technology questions, another can increase attendance at a gallery merely by mentioning the gallery’s exhibits. The success of these blogs is driven by a built-in reader base common to news and magazine sites. Those same visitors can be directed to blogs that allow a writer’s personality to shine as they build their own personal brand.
While it is not necessary to work for a magazine or news source to influence consumers, you do have to key in on personal branding to build a loyal reader base. Video blogging on sites like YouTube have allowed enthusiasts to build their own brand through video product reviews, an endeavor that’s been particularly successful with small electronics, such as smartphones and game systems.
One YouTuber garnered 1.4 million views on an iPhone review, and has more than 1 million subscribers. To put this into perspective, that’s more than the circulation of most European national newspapers.
Achieving SEO Success in a Time of Tougher Algorithms
Where blogging really succeeds as a component of the inbound marketing machine is in search engine optimization. Fresh, regular content, rich in keywords and phrases is a must. Google becomes ever more difficult to influence artificially as they create a more human and natural algorithm that serves the needs of the user, rather than those of business.
Blogging and content marketing is the most effective form of SEO with these more stringent algorithms because blogs are natural, valuable and the content has been socially proven via shares on social media. Additionally, there’s no detection of spam, keeping the content in good standing with Google.
Social proof can be increased by nurturing social communities and then looking to them to share content. As long as content is frequently updated and well produced, it should draw regular readers and social media shares, thereby improving SEO rankings. Improved SEO rankings typically lead to increased traffic at your website and a real chance to increase sales.
Capturing the Lead
Business blogs with a solid reader base can generate leads though onward links and recommendations. Video logs can feature links to manufacturer or retailer pages in the description. A blog can send a reader to a website’s landing page where the potential customer is offered something, typically advanced or premium content, in exchange for providing contact and other useful information.
Premium content could include a subscription to a newsletter, a white paper or a download. The company can take it from there with attempting to convert this new lead to a sale, which is the ultimate goal of online marketing.