As someone who specialises in content marketing, I have read many marketing and business articles which suggest that start-ups and SMEs ‘must blog’ in order to attract a customer base. However, very few explain the reasons why in very much detail. I don’t know if this is because the authors don’t know themselves (it’s just ‘a must’) or that they believe the benefits are self-evident. I personally don’t think the latter is the case, so why would anyone else? Surely, no one would exercise if they were just told it was the ‘thing to do’ and weren’t aware of the benefits to their mental health, energy levels and life expectancy would they?!
The similarity to exercise doesn’t stop there. The problem with blogging is that the results aren’t instantaneous. However, if the appropriate amount of time is invested, the benefits will build up over the long term. Below I have laid out the benefits of blogging in layman’s terms. I’ll leave the benefits of doing more cardio to someone who is much more qualified!
You can be crawled by spiders
Now this isn’t as nasty as it sounds! You have probably heard of ‘search engine optimisation’ (SEO), but what does it actually mean? In basic terms, it is the practice of setting up a website (both in terms of the content and the technical stuff) to give it the best chance of being ranked highly when searches relevant to your products and/or services are carried out on Google and other popular search engines.
There are many factors involved in the ranking process. These include page speed, whether a website is responsive to mobile devices, ease of navigation and the number of external links from trusted third party sites to name a few. The ability of a website to answer a particular search query, however, is an important one.
If you were the only website in the world which sold cat hammocks (you wouldn’t be in real life, with over 20,000,000 search results on Google currently!) then you are likely to rank 1 for a ‘where can I buy a cat hammock online?’ search in Google. However, because there are over 20 million mentions of cat hammocks online (I know!), other SEO factors become important in calculating your ranking, including blogging.
The more information that you have on your website which answers the questions posed by your target audience in search engines, the more likely you are to rank highly for relevant searches, and have relevant customers click though to your site.
You can be found by new customers
Search engine queries aren’t the only way to get your content in front of a relevant audience. This can also be achieved by promoting your blogs through social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. However, only people who follow you on social media will get to see these posts unless you use relevant hashtags so that your blog can be found in searches (#CatHammocks #CatNaps) or if you encourage followers to share your blog with others.
If you have a marketing budget, social pay-per-click advertising (PPC ) can be used to promote your content within the social newsfeeds of people in your target market who aren’t following you. Readers who like the blog you’ve promoted are likely to follow you to receive notification of similar content that will be posted in the future.
Another option is to get a blog article published on a relevant third party website. For example, if your company did sell cat hammocks, you could write a blog regarding the sleeping habits of cats for the Your Cat magazine website. In exchange, they would publish the blog for their audience and provide a link back to your website. This is known as a backlink and this will drive relevant traffic to your website and also help with search engine rankings. However, these blogs must be original, you can’t simply use a blog that already exists on your website. Some publishers will charge for this service, but if the blog is informative rather than advertorial, they are more likely to publish it for free.
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You can build trust and demonstrate expertise
Which of the following websites would you feel most comfortable buying a cat hammock from?
- A website that sells cat hammocks, but with no additional information.
- A website that has in-depth product descriptions of their cat hammocks
- A website that has in-depth product descriptions and a blog which includes titles such as ‘The 5 Best Cat Hammocks for the Summer Months’, ‘The Difference Between a Cat Hammock and a Cat Bed’ and ‘8 Out of 10 Cats Trialled Sleep Longer in a Hammock’.
Of course, there are other factors at play when choosing a seller such as price, reviews, returns policy and delivery costs. However, if the product offering is similar then the quality and quantity of relevant content on the website will become a deciding factor. By building up a library of quality blogs will instil a degree of trust in your expertise and products. If your library has a diverse range of topics relevant to your customer, they are likely to come back to the site for both information and further purchases.
You can contact your customers directly
A ‘call-to-action’ (CTA) is an instruction that is included on a web page or in a blog. This is added to inform the reader what you want them to do next (e.g. share this blog on Facebook, see our full cat hammock range, download our dog futon brochure). By using a CTA ‘sign up to our e-newsletter’ you can encourage readers to give you permission to contact them directly via their inbox. It will then be possible to encourage sales by emailing blogs, promotions and discounts directly to your subscribers.