Having a blog for your small business is vital. Businesses that blog receive 55% more traffic than those that don’t. In a month’s time B2C businesses generate 88% more business with a blog, while B2B businesses generate 67% more leads. In a webinar, Dan Zarella, the Social Media Scientist found that blogs effect customer purchasing decision by 71%. Even the big guys like Coca Cola are changing their entire marketing direction focusing heavily on content marketing for their new campaign Content 2020 because of how effective and well received it is by the masses. In general, having a blog allows you to communicate, inform, connect, build and maintain relationships with your current and potential customers —which in turn increases visibility and sales. The 10 commandments of blogging for small business are as follows:
I. Thou must have a blog
Having a blog can help achieve marketing goals and initiatives. Thou must have a blog for thou small business for the following reasons:
Communicate and connect with customers Blogging gives you the opportunity to communicate with your target audience who you are and what your business is about. By sharing your business missions, goals, and philosophies; you are giving customers a way to stay engaged and connect. The more transparent you are about your business the better the connection will be with your audience, which ultimately can translate into more sales. Additionally, communicating and engaging your audience allows you to build strong relationships which are key to being successful in business. Think about it how many times have you turned someone down that was selling you something because of the relationship that you have with another person or business? Communicate often and connect with your customers via your blog to build and maintain relationships that will last a lifetime.
Take control of your brand Having a blog for your small business allows you to control the message and image of your company that current customers, potential customers, business partners, and competitors will see.
Build trust By delivering value consistently a blog allows you to build trust. Share stories about your business, history of your industry, facts, trivia, customer feedback, etc. Be as transparent as possible via your blog and you will be perceived as a thought leader which brings me to my next point.
Position yourself/ your business as the expert Blogging allows you to position yourself as an expert in your field by writing informative, relevant articles that both current customers and prospects can understand. It is important to blog about things that matter to your customer, by doing so current customers perceive you or your brand as a leading authority in your industry. Prospects will remember you when they need help in the niche that you specialize in.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Providing keyword rich, high quality content on a consistent basis gets your blog to the top of the search engines. A large number of buyers begin their purchase decision by utilizing search engines. Blog posts give your website new content on a regular basis. Search engines like Google are constantly looking for new content and the more indexed pages a website has that is keyword rich and high quality, the more likely it is to rank high. Simply put blogging regularly will increase your business’s SEO which allows you to be easily found by potential customers. Thus, blogging allows you to reach a larger audience which in turn can increase sales.
UpsellWith a blog, you can make correlations between the various products and services that you have to offer assisting you with upselling. Help the customer see how products/services are more efficient, save money, etc., when they are paired with your other offerings.
Real-time feedback from current and potential customers A blog can give you customer feedback in real-time. Customers can leave comments about their experience or ask a question on an archived article. You can even place surveys on your blog for responses from your audience. The great part about this is that real-time feedback gives you incite about what your customers are thinking and feeling. Knowing this allows you to give your customers exactly what they want as soon as possible.
Set your business apart from the competition Do your competitors have a blog? If they don’t then you are already ahead of them. If they do then take a look at what they are doing —what makes your company different? What niche within your industry do you cater to but your competitors barely address? Create blog posts that are not the focus of your competitors’ blogs but are important to your customers. Also share industry news and developments before your competition does. Without a blog online searches for your keywords will be directed at your competitors that do have a blog —even if your service is better, your products last longer, etc.
Learning In addition to learning your customer, blogging forces you to stay on top of industry trends, news and developments.
II. Thou must determine thou business blogs over all objectives
- reach a larger audience
- build brand
- generate leads
- attract prospects that are local, national, or international
- improve search engine rankings
- test new ideas before spending large amounts of money on development
- update customers about things that are happening at your company
- educate prospects and current customers
- pre-selling services so that potential clients can call you ready to buy
- handling customer service issues
- drive foot traffic to your store or office
- feature employees and management
- fund-raise and raise awareness about charitable events
III. Thou must define target reader audience
Current customers: Who are they and why do they buy from you?
Use specific demographics: What is your customers: age, location, gender, income level, education level, marital/family status, occupation, ethnic background, etc.
Use psychographics:What kind of personality, attitudes, values, interest/hobbies, life styles, behavior, etc. do your customers have?
Check out the competition: Who are your competitors targeting via their blog? Who are their current customers? Don’t go after their customers, see if there is a niche to target that may be overlooked.
Analyze how they utilize social media: What social networks can they be found on?
Analyze their overall blog experience: Do they only read blogs or do they create blog content themselves? Do they comment on blog posts?
IV. Thou blog content must be consistent
Once you begin blogging it is important that you are consistent. You must blog regularly minimum two times a week (with three to five times a week being ideal) so that search engines will crawl to your website. Blogging often helps to position you as the expert and keeps you in front of your audience. If you are unable to blog regularly because you have a million other things to do, it is important to get your staff involved. This is a great way to boost employee morale and get your staff involved helping to make your business even more transparent with additional company views. If that is not an option hire a professional blogger or content writer to assist you with your blogger efforts. Whatever you do you must blog for your small business! (see commandment #1).
V. Thou blog content must be original and high quality
It is important to provide content that is original (hasn’t be published anywhere else). Pick a topic within your industry that everyone else my be talking about and share a different view point or share things that are rarely discussed. In addition to originality, blogs must also provide high quality to the audience. When it comes to quality it is important that your blog is well written. Quality content can include sharing white papers, eBooks, infographics, interviews, images, and video.
VI. Thou must partner high quality content with SEO
In addition to the blog post itself, include keywords in the title, tags, URLs, images and video. When appropriate include geo-targeting in order to reach local customers. Also when and where appropriate include inbound links to other relevant blog posts and to your website.
VII. Thou must include a call to action in blog content
What would you like your readers to do? Encourage them to leave a comment, connect on Facebook or other social networks, take a survey, or even encourage them to make a purchase. Be specific about what you would like the reader to do with a call to action in each post that is specific to your post topic.
VIII. Thou must engage reader audience
Engagement is one of the most important parts of the blogging process. Once you get people talking about and sharing your posts it is important to acknowledge them and respond to their questions and comments. Don’t be afraid to join the conversation —after all you started it! Comment as quickly as possible and interact with customers and prospects on your social networks. It is important to respond to negative comments as well. By doing so you are showing your community that you welcome different opinions and points of view and it also gives you the opportunity to comment back with something of value. This way your current audience can see how you deal with issues that may arise and appreciate your expert advice or opinion.
VIIII. Thou must leverage content exposure
Blogs can be shared and distributed to many different platforms in order to reach a larger audience. Promote your business blog via: article directories, syndication (RSS), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Stumble Upon, Pinterest, Google+, etc. Tip #1: See how many clicks your posts are getting after you announce them or post them somewhere else by shortening blog post URLs for tracking analytics utilize Bit.ly, Cli.gs, Ow.ly, clicky.me, or linkpop.pro. Tip #2: Turn archived blog posts into eBooks, white papers, powerpoint presentations, eNewsletter articles, infograhics, etc.
X. Thou must measure results
Once you have created your small business blog complete with high quality content and have shared it across your social networks and other channels, it is important to measure and track your results. What is working and what isn’t? Who is your message reaching the most? What time of the day are post being read? There are free analytics tools such as Google Analytics to help you track and monitor your success with blogging. Measuring results is very important for figuring out where you are and getting to where you would like to be. Don’t skip this commandment otherwise all the rest were done in vain! Want to know exactly what you should be tracking? Heidi Cohen shares 21 Blog Metrics Your Company Needs to Trackon Content Marketing Institute’s blog.
So there you have it the, 10 Commandments of Blogging for Small Business. They are commandments because in order to successfully compete in today’s market place you must have a blog. With a plant you must continue to nurture and water it in order for it to grow —a blog works the same way. Once your blog begins to grow, continue to engage your audience and track the results. Blogs are here to stay and they are free or relatively low cost to run, even if you have to hire professional help. The return on your investment will be well worth it!
Do you have a blog for your small business? If so, how has it benefited your business? Share you small biz diamonds in the comments section below.
Ashley Neal is an entrepreneur and small business advocate that enjoys writing about topics pertaining to small business. She is the owner of Small Biz Writer, where she specializes in providing quality content online for small business owners which in turn increases visibility and sales. Additionally, Ashley is the editor/writer and publisher of her own small business resource blog Small Biz Diamonds. She also writes for Examiner.com as the Atlanta Small Business Examiner, and Future Simple’s small business blog: Growth University.
Have a successful day!