Who are you? Is this a question that your website can provide a good enough answer to?
In this digitally immersed age, with millions of businesses having an online presence, it is a question that many more potential customers are asking in order to make their choice from an increasing, and often bewildering, multitude of options. For customers to distinguish you from out of that crowd, you need to distinguish your business. A website does not give you enough flexibility to do that, but a blog does.
Blogs have gone from a thing done purely by “bloggers” to an indispensable communication and marketing tool integral to the majority of businesses with an online presence, large and small. We no longer give much pause to the question of whether, as a business, we need a website. Similarly, blogging is increasingly accepted as being a necessary component of our online presence.
Your website will never exist beyond a few key pages, because, in its entirety, it would be too unwieldy for a customer to consume. But a blog can continue growing, and mature, and flower beautifully, bringing new customers and nurturing old, ultimately strengthening and growing your business.
How? Let’s try and understand more about blogging, and the benefits it can bring for you.
Through blogging you can
Communicate, Connect, and Engage with your Client Base…
…far more effectively than through your website alone. Essentially, we keep the pages of our website short and to the point, to give our customers the information they need, and to offer up directly our products or services for their consumption. Yes, well-written web copy should reflect the voice of your business and be engaging for clients. But it starts and ends there, in the finite pages of your website, and is rarely updated.
A blog, by its very nature, consists of multiple posts, all written in your unique voice, reflecting your unique personality, and as such gives much greater – limitless almost – scope for you to communicate with existing and potential clients. It gives you the opportunity to show who you are and what you do as a business, to share different aspects of your business, and the net effect is you are no longer just communicating, you are connecting with and directly engaging your audience. You are relationship building.
It doesn’t end there. Another key advantage to a blog is in the ability readers have to grab that connection and comment or ask a question. Essentially, you are reaching out to potential customers directly and giving yourself the chance to have a two-way conversation with them, and gather valuable feedback in the process.
Which leads us on to…
Blogging allows us to:
Listen, Learn, and Innovate
We know our perspective as seller of products or services intimately – this is our business, after all. But do we know our clients as well? Feedback forms are one thing (when they are filled out), but reviewing comments and directly engaging with readers through a blog gives you unparalleled and ongoing insight into the customer, or potential customer, point of view. A feedback form is a snapshot; blog feedback can be rolling and reflective.
No business is static. Or at least, any business with long-term aspirations will be seeking to learn, grow, adapt, continue to find new spaces to fill and customers to satisfy. This direct, immediate feedback that you get from a blog is absolutely invaluable for succeeding in that path, for meeting existing and potential customers’ needs and wants. Indeed, the path you envisaged may not be the path you follow, and new and more exciting avenues may be opened up because of that learning through engagement process.
Alongside this, the very act of writing a blog, of thinking up new blog posts, of building on posts already written, breeds innovation and creativity within your business. Before one particular blog post was written, you may never have come up with the idea for this other one, and then another one, and suddenly a new innovation for your business is born. It couldn’t be planned, it just happened, through this writing process.
When I first began thinking about the amazing effects that blogs can have, I immediately thought of a snowball: small at first, growing layers, becoming bigger, gathering pace. Who knows where it could go?
Using Blogging To:
Establish and Grow Trust in your Business
Through the writing of new and different blog posts, alongside learning from and building on those already written, you are steadily building up a valuable knowledge base. This is a resource that not only you and your employees can draw on, but your client base and your peers too.
We have to remember here, why are we writing any particular post? We are communicating, yes, but we are also imparting information.
Most of us who turn to Google are looking for information; we are looking for answers. If you create content that is valuable to your target audience, you are helping them. Over time, this builds up trust in your business as a knowledgeable actor in whatever field you are in, and as a business that is willing to engage with and listen to its clients.
Trust is one of the key elements that will lead customers to do business with you, and stay with you. If your posts help them to navigate queries, at the same time, they will understand how your business works, and, ultimately, how it might help them. They are increasingly likely to turn to you, and encourage others to do so. You will develop authority in your field, amongst clients and peers, which is a pretty solid base to build and grow from.
And all of the above will, without a doubt mean…
Increase the Visibility of Your Business Online
Let’s not beat around the bush. You could write the best blog posts out there, but what good is it if nobody can find them in such a crowded online world?
There is no double-edged sword here, because the act of writing and posting new material, on a regular basis, in itself makes your business more visible to search engines.
You could read a whole other post on how search engines work, and perhaps you will choose to. But for the purposes of this post, essentially, they prioritise the indexing of new content. When you post something new, you are waving your digital arms in a proverbial, “Hey you, over here!”. Search engines will recognise that your website, and associated blog, is active and check in for that new content.
That content is indexed, and the more content you have that is processed by search engines, the more likely you are to show up in search engine results, and the higher your ranking will be in any one engine. Your website can sit there, un-updated, for a good length of time, whereas regularly posted blogs continue to nudge and demand attention.
Of course, the more information and key words a search engine associates with your site, the more likely potential customers are to come across you in that holy grail of first page internet searches. Because, in all fairness, how often do you click onto page 2?
But, bear in mind, search engine visibility isn’t the endgame. It’s a result, certainly, but it shouldn’t be the primary reason you start a blog. Aim for quality, every time, for the other BIG reasons outlined above, but also because content that is commented on and shared is recognised by search engines. They are smart. And only content that has meant something to a reader, or helped them in some way, is gifted the time it takes to comment, or share, a particular post.
Which brings us on to…
How blogging can:
Reinforce and Grow a Social Media Presence
Social media isn’t for everyone. But increasingly it is, again, a necessary tool we have to use to increase our visibility to potential customers, and elbow our way into crowded markets. I’m not a natural social mediaphile myself, but I recognise, begrudgingly, its pervasiveness in our social, and business, worlds. However reluctantly, some businesses have to engage.
Whether you are on social media or not, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… much will depend on your type of business… it can work with and strengthen that presence. And vice versa for your blog.
If you do have any such presence, you will know that maintaining it takes work, and time. The latter is something we find ourselves in short supply of, especially small business owners. Let your blog help you. You can promote and link new blog posts in your social media, fueling your own output on whatever platform/s you choose, negating the need to create new posts all the time. The two can grow and develop in parallel, and in concert and connection with each other to, again, magnify your online visibility. Your blog becomes a repository of social media friendly content.
Equally, it can build on the connections and engagements described above, where a blog post is shared on a reader’s social media platform, exposing you to audiences you may not have reached before. Every time you post, you create something that can be shared. And such sharing can snowball into increased readership and appreciation of your products or services. We all know how powerful social media can be in that regard.
Blogging is no quick fix. But it will pay dividends in time, and is worth investing in.
It is a long-term marketing and communication tool, and if you are building a business, you are looking at the long-term.
Customers won’t choose you over another because you have a blog, in and of itself. The presence or absence of a blog is not the key factor.
- It’s the way in which a blog allows you to connect with, engage with, and reach more potential clients, and keep those clients interested.
- It’s the way in which you can showcase your unique voice or niche as a business.
- It’s the way in which you can give more, and more detailed, more nuanced, information about your business to potential clients.
- It’s the way in which you can elevate and distinguish yourself amongst all those other voices vying for attention in our online world.
- It’s the way in which your blog can bring and keep you amongst the first page results in any search engine.
And if you are successful, your blog will be visited, commented on, shared, and become the locus of conversation.
You will, and can, become a trusted brand, and respected amongst your peers.