More people are purchasing goods online than ever before, and adding blog content to your website helps capture the attention of digital shoppers and beyond. U.S. eCommerce sales in the second quarter of 2016 reached $97.3 billion, an increase of 4.5 percent quarter-over-quarter and a whopping 15.8 percent increase year-over-year, according to the Department of Commerce. When your company provides blog content your potential customers are searching for, you build trust in your business and increase positive sentiment about your brand, which leads to sales when blog visitors need your product or service.
Your competitors are already blogging. The Content Marketing Institute reports that 77 percent of businesses have a blog they use for content marketing, and the same percentage planned to produce more content in 2016 compared to 2015.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to add a blog to your marketing toolset, consider these five advantages.
1. A Blog Is Agile Marketing
Unlike ordering hundreds of T-shirts for a giveaway donning a logo that may change next week, or investing in banners and flyers that become useless and irrelevant when your next promotion is over, a blog is changeable in an instant with minimum cost to your marketing department. You can update it quickly with breaking news about your company and post trending content based on popular hashtags on Twitter. You can also create evergreen content for your audience, which can then be re-purposed into everything from eBooks and info-graphics to podcasts and webinars for years to come.
It’s also fairly easy to measure a blog’s effectiveness so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. Compare that to spending big money on print materials, where performance is much more difficult to track. Content marketing expert and author Jay Baer presents an easy way to calculate blogging on his site, Convince & Convert. And by working with content creation and management software such as ClearVoice, you can scale your efforts more easily.
2. A Blog Boosts Search Engine Optimization
If your business sells a service or product that has dozens, hundreds or thousands of competitors, ranking higher in search results makes you more visible to those who are searching for your solution online. GE Capital Retail Bank reports more than 80 percent of shoppers who are making a major purchase conduct research online before deciding on a retailer. By tailoring blog content based on the content those shoppers are looking for, your brand is more likely to appear in their search results.
For example, if you’re a flooring installation company, and you discover your target customers are often searching, “Is carpet or hardwood better for my floors?”, you could create a blog post using that exact question as the title so that it shows up in results to that query.
Regularly creating new content — at least weekly is optimal — based on keywords that relate to your brand and what your target customers type into search engines provides a cue to search engine bots to continue to crawl your site and index your posts in their results. Featuring guest bloggers who link back to your blog on their own credible sites, creating content that is so valuable that other reputable sites link to it as a credible source, and guest blogging on other legitimate sites in exchange for a link back to your blog page mean your blog builds authority to search engines and boosts your entire website’s search engine optimization, which in turn benefits your product pages, too.
3. A Blog Increases Your Brand’s Exposure
In addition to gaining more traction on search engines by blogging, by producing content your web visitors will enjoy and feel compelled to share means your business is equipped with a powerful new arm in your marketing department: brand advocates. These content consumers share your blog on their social media pages, they email its content to their friends who need it, and they reference it when someone mentions a need for a product or service you offer.
While it is obviously relevant to include content on your blog that relates directly to your service or product, the better content strategy is to aim to be helpful, not sales-y. Blog content should educate, entertain and delight, so that it maintains attention and keeps visitors coming back for more.
By promoting blog content through your own social media channels, email newsletters, etc., you’re allowing it to be picked up and spread to completely new audiences by people they place confidence in. Since Nielsen reports 92 percent of people trust the recommendations of friends and family over all over forms of advertising, using a blog to engage your customers so much that they want to tell their friends about your business is of paramount value.
4. A Blog Establishes You as an Authority in Your Space
Speaking of trust, creating blog content that gives actionable advice to readers, video viewers or podcast listeners extends your reach beyond content creator to one of a dependable expert.
Say you sell gluten-free flour. By producing content related to delicious gluten-free recipes, how to navigate ordering at a restaurant when you have celiac disease, and how to be a better baker with instructional cooking videos, you’re presenting content that benefits your current customers as well as those who haven’t bought it yet. You’re going to show up more in search results related to these topics, so you’ll reach new audiences — people who need your product but haven’t discovered you yet. Plus, you’ll gain return visitors who keep coming back to learn more about how to thrive in a gluten-free lifestyle.
Producing trustworthy, educational, useful content may also lead to significant publicity opportunities, such as guest spots on morning television news shows or being included as a source in a larger story. A blog legitimizes your leadership in your industry since it allows you to become the site large audiences turn to when they want to learn about topics related to what you offer.
5. A Blog Connects You With Your Customers
Your competitors have blogs, and your customers love to read blogs. Blogging platform WordPress reports more than 409 million people view more than 22 billion blog pages per month. They read them while they’re at work, they read them while they’re waiting in a doctor’s office, and they read them on the subway. You have an audience who is thirsty for content.
By blogging, you not only provide them with knowledge or entertainment, you also build a relationship with your visitors. By integrating a commenting system, you can glean insights on the demographics of your readers. You can learn about their thoughts and opinions and what types of content or products they want from you. They can tell you what they’re loving about your brand and what they wish would be improved upon.
The possibilities of what your business can achieve by launching a blog are vast. A blog allows for real-time marketing, for you to improve your website’s and brand’s reach among current consumers and new prospects. A blog enables you to give helpful information to those who can turn into significant, loyal brand advocates for your business. With dozens of free blogging platforms to use and the power of content ideation within everything from your staff’s ideas to what people are talking about on your social media channels, getting started can bring more positive exposure to your business and improve your marketing efforts.