Blogging has become an incredible online marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. A business can save thousands of dollars in paid advertising expenses while gaining valuable exposure and traffic. Blogs are a user-friendly, customizable and flexible medium for effective positioning of your products in the market. Businesses using blogs to promote their business have a definite edge over their competitors and are seeing a number of advantages. To get that advantage, however, they do require careful planning and effective marketing.
Blog postings are appearing in search engine results faster than other website content. Post submitted through blogging tools like Blogger and WordPress are being fast tracked to search engine results. This means more backlinks for your business website and quicker, more up to date search engine placement for your business’ marketing message.
Blogs support and even encourage word of mouth viral marketing. According to a recent survey, there are currently 90 million blogs with 80,000 more being added each day and 30 percent of internet users are blog readers. The very nature of the blogging space with sites such as Technorati and Digg, quickly spread blog posts to the widest audience. Posts that become popular can quickly spread across hundreds or thousands of other blogs and social interaction sites.
Customer awareness and loyalty are enhanced. Having a open dialogue with your customers creates trust and loyalty among them. The ability to respond, almost in real time, to customer questions and comments makes them all the more willing to try your products and services.
Feedback can be instantaneous. Businesses can use blogs and their related comments for product research and to solicit reviews. This rapid feedback mechanism could allow a business to make product decisions based on almost real time observations of their customers’ thinking and behavioral patterns.
Businesses can gain a halo-effect because the ‘blogosphere’ has the reputation of being a place for reasonable, friendly, helpful and most importantly, personal interactions. Businesses that can embrace the culture of the environment can help assign the same characteristics to their products and services.
Notwithstanding the benefits, like any other business website, it is important that the content be well planned and thought out. Even with the informal nature of many blogs, it is important to remember that they still reflect on the business’ image, positively or negatively. The blog should reflect the values and objectives of the business as well as be reflective of the overall marketing efforts of the business.
Blogging is relatively straightforward, but to be done correctly does take effort and learning. There are several blogs dedicated to teaching people the do’s and don’ts of blogging. Be aware that blogs may have themes or be community based so make sure you aware of these before putting your business name out there. The easiest way, of course, to become familiar with the tone of the blog or social community is to spend time reading posts.
Like any website there are a number of things to keep in mind. Testing, testing and testing are important to make sure the blog meets business objectives. The tone of blogs may be more subtle to detect than standard websites, requiring frequent tweaks to get it right.
Be prepared in advance for a much higher level of content posting than normal with a more static website. Blogs, to be effective, need regular, even daily, infusions of fresh content to stay relevant and keep visitors’ attention.
As with a standard website, be aware of legal issues, disclaimers, notifications, copyright issues or other issues relevant to the business. The informal nature of blogs, as well as the higher volume of updates can create compliance issues if not carefully monitored.
Finally, once a business decides to invest in blogging, there are great ways to spread the word about the new blog. To get the best marketing results, it is essential to actively promote your business blogs through blog search sites and directories. Promotion and submissions should be consistent with your products, services or the theme of the blog to be most effective. Adding exclusive or member’s only information can also increase the likelihood that casual browsers will invest the time to follow the business’ postings.
Promotion of the blog can be almost automatic be creating and promoting Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds in conjunction with the blogs. Individuals and other, related, websites can view and display blog postings directly from their own websites or personal news readers. This allows the blog poster to essentially push posts to reader’s desktops instead of relying on them to visit the originating blog site.
Since search engine placement is essential for traffic volume the blog should make effective use of keyword phrases. Blogs are by definition very content heavy website, which afford amble opportunity to generate keyword rich copy. Keywords should be selected to ensure that relevant traffic is directed to the business blog.
In summary, a blog is a great way to promote a business. A number of advantages can be gained as long as the business plans well and takes the steps to properly promote its new blog.
Aubrey Jones is President and founder of Riverbank Consulting, Inc. Through Webs 4 Small Business he is able to bring SEO and other internet services to Small Business owners. He has been in the technology and internet industry for over 10 years building and managing large commercial internet services.