“Oh, and we need a blog”. That has become a standard request as we review requirements for new websites. And it’s often in that very context – one of the last components to be identified.
While many forward-thinking companies suggest that they “need a blog”, few have actually formalized a plan, selected a designated writer(s) or accounted for the time it takes to maintain this corporate forum. Not to deny their good intentions! We understand that companies often work so hard in their business that it’s difficult to find the time to work on their business. Plus, as popular as blogs are, there is still a lot of ambiguity about the benefits of corporate blogging.
If your company is considering venturing down the lucrative path of business blogging, below are some questions to consider. The rewards can be well worth the investment, but as with every marketing initiative, proper planning will ensure you maximize your ROI.
What are the benefits of business blogging?
A business blog allows you to:
1. Create a community. A corporate blog provides an ongoing opportunity to not only communicate, but to interact with your customers and potential clients, especially if your posts encourage comments.
2. Build customer loyalty. Your blog can become your corporate voice/personality that allows you to develop relationships. Share expertise and consumer tips while portraying the human side of your company. Give value without asking for anything in return.
3. Boost traffic to your website. New relevant content keeps followers coming back and encourages social media sharing. Using industry keywords and links within blogs can also improve your search engine rankings.
4. Build credibility. Regularly publish useful and meaningful posts. As you extend your reach within you target market, you will also build credibility as an expert in your industry.
5. Generate excitement for your products and services. Create an online buzz by using your blog as an exclusive club. Grant access to special offers, contests, teasers about upcoming releases, etc.
6. Finally, increase leads, conversions and sales. Ultimately, a business blog can be a powerful tool that, through the above mentioned benefits, can contribute significantly to your bottom line. But before you take that first step, plan it out…
Can you commit the resources to maintaining a corporate blog?
Planning, researching and writing blog posts takes time. And time is money. Answer these questions:
• What kind of budget can you allocate for this activity?
• Who is best suited to writing blog posts?
• Will you have one writer/one voice that represents your company or a team who collectively contributes articles and ideas?
• How much time can your writer(s) realistically and regularly dedicate to this marketing initiative?
How often should you blog?
The more you blog, the better. But if once a month is a reasonable pace for your company, then that’s where you should start. You can always increase the frequency of your posts, but it’s a good idea to commit to an editorial calendar so that you can set – and meet expectations for both your company and your followers. Another option is to hire a professional writer to create your blog posts. At Top Draw, we are getting set to begin our first regular blog for one of our clients, with support from their industry experts, of course.
What topics should you blog about?
Reduce some of the stress around blogging by coming up with specific topics for your first few posts. You can even create 3 or 4 full submissions and have them waiting in the wings. But while it can be a good idea to have some reserves, remember that the very nature of blogging encourages spontaneity, responsiveness and agility.
As for topics of discussion, other than from team brainstorming sessions, your best source is your company front lines – your receptionists, customer service reps and sales team. What questions are they asked most often? Answer those first! Blogs have a wonderful shelf life and can serve as a library of FAQs months or even years after they’re published.
Hopefully we’ve answered a few of your questions about business blogging and provided some direction on how to get started. Think of a company blog as a corporate asset, one that, with strategic planning and dedicated resources, will increase in value and pay back in dividends. Take some time to organize and coordinate your efforts and get your employees and stakeholders excited about this new powerful marketing tool!
– Cindy Joly, Content Strategist