Blogging for business: Do you have an effective digital marketing campaign?
Marketing has been changing radically over the past 10 years or so. The internet is available in all four corners of the planet and it’s now possible to reach such a huge potential client/customer base that traditional marketing techniques(newspaper, magazine and TV advertising, posters, brochures and word of mouth, etc) have been hard pushed to keep up to date. While traditional marketing techniques still play an important role in any campaign, online marketing is now essential for all businesses, however large or small in every industry and sector.
We’ve reached a stage where so many people are online that digital marketing just cannot be ignored, however traditional your business may be. Whether it’s a huge multi-national corporation or a one man show, spreading the word online is essential for any business.
However, it’s not enough anymore for a business to get a website built and sit back waiting for the trade to start rolling in. The internet is changing all the time and if you want to stay ahead of the game, you need to keep up with these changes and become part of the changing face of the internet. The keys to success with any online marketing campaign are social media and search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is another constantly changing face of online marketing – Google and other search engines repeatedly change their algorithms in a bid to ensure that search results are useful and relevant. These search engines place great value on regular new content, so posting new content on a regular basis is imperative. This means that SEO is an ongoing job if you want your company or marketing campaign to rank high in the results on a continual basis.
Social media marketing is the buzzword at the moment – it seems that more and more companies are turning to social media platforms in order to connect with customers (old and new) and market their products or services. Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, Google+, etc – these are all valid virtual places where you can let everybody know what you have to offer. However, getting it right is vital if you want your digital marketing campaign to rock.
The most effective way of engaging with your audience is blogging – blogging is absolutely crucial. Blogging for business is fundamental to success in this digital age. This means learning how to blog to benefit your business. Here are a few ideas you can use to ensure that your business blog has the desired effect – taking your business to the top and keeping it there.
It’s all too easy to think that your business blog should be formal, after all business communications in the past have reeked of conventionality and decorum. Well, think again! Your audience prefers to see a bit of personality in your blog posts – they want to know that you’re human and not some faceless organisation that is there to dictate to them what it is they want from your products/services and how to use them. Readers like to get the feel that it’s a person that is communicating with them – somebody approachable and friendly, somebody who’s not afraid to let their hair down and have some fun now and again. Let your personality shine through in your blog posts so that your audience comes to think of you as a friendly online persona, somebody who they can trust (trust is a great way of attracting brand advocates who will share your blog posts with family and friends).
Don’t make the mistake of keeping on topic all the time – it can be boring for your readers and they will come to see you as one-dimensional. Use the internet to read articles and blog posts that have nothing to do with your industry and when you come across something interesting, share it with your readers. You may find a way of commenting on what you find in a way that ties it in with your industry, but that’s not totally essential. Find content that you think would interest your readers and share it with them. That way, readers will return again and again to see what it is you have to show them. Share good quality content (videos too) that they can in turn pass on to others – that’s how viral works and we all know that ‘viral’ is the Holy Grail online.
Right, Write, Write
Don’t be afraid of writing – it may not be your strong point, but the more of it you do, the easier it gets. You don’t need great literary skills, you just need to get into the habit of writing – you can always use a spell-check function to ensure that your blog posts don’t suck. Think about what you have to say and instead of saying it, write it in your blog posts. Don’t let yourself get stuck (writer’s block, dahling) – if you can’t think of what to say, pick a topic and then go off and do something else for a while. Mull over the subject in your head as you’re going about your daily business and then when it’s time to write your blog post, you’ll find that you have plenty to say because you’ve been rolling it round in the back of your mind all day.
Empathy is the New Black
Well, that’s not quite true (black is really the only Black). However, empathy is a powerful technique when communicating in writing. Don’t forget that you need to connect with your target audience so you will need to build a rapport with people you’ve never even met. You will need to develop an understanding of your target audience so that you can write in a manner that resonates with them and makes them want to read your blog posts. As your empathy skills increase, you’ll find it easier to choose topics that will interest your readers, topics that get through to them.
Short and Sweet is Better than Nothing at all
Blog postings need to be regular, every week at least, if not two or three times a week. Don’t forget that your target audience will check back with your blog on a daily basis at first. If they see new content on a daily basis, they are likely to visit every day. If they see a new blog post on a weekly basis, they will reach a stage where they visit once a week. Your readers will suss out how often you post new content and that is what determines the frequency of their visits.
None of us can come up with a brilliant blog post every single time – 800 words of really useful and relevant content that is well written and knocks your readers out. However, if you’ve decided to post new content three times a week, stick to it. When you’re stuck for something to say (or just having a bad day/week), then keep it short and sweet. Don’t make the mistake of not posting anything at all because you can’t think of anything to say. Scour YouTube or Google News, find something relevant to your industry, then post a link and write a few sentences about it. This lets you off the hook now and again without risking losing an audience that you’ve worked hard to acquire.
Haters and Bullies – How to Turn your Liabilities into Assets
The internet is chock full with ‘trolls’ who scour the internet looking for something to be negative about. This is unavoidable and when you’re blogging you’re sure to come across your fair share of cynics and sceptics who post comments that are unhelpful at best and sometimes downright rude. Don’t make the mistake of deleting their comments. Deleting comments is a huge NoNo online, but that doesn’t mean that you have to let these people get away with dissing you scot free. Use their negative comments to your advantage. Take a deep breath and look at the comment objectively.
If the criticism is at all valid, then use this as valuable feedback to improve your products/services. This is a win-win situation for you because not only will you answer your detractors, you will also improve your offerings to your customers which will have an overall positive effect on your business. Your follow up comments should point out the improvements you’ve made and will be seen by your regular readers who will be impressed at what you’ve done to improve things – a great way of building an army of brand advocates and increasing your sales.
If the criticism is not valid, then answer their comment with one of your own, pointing out politely why they’re wrong – this will be read by your regular audience and you might be surprised at just how many of them post comments in your defence. This is all good publicity and your positive attitude and lack of malice will impress newcomers and regulars alike.
Blogging is a valuable mechanism in the digital marketing toolbox and it’s something that no business can afford to ignore. Whether you’re a huge organization with branches all over the world or a one man band working from home, blogging should be one of the most essential parts of your online marketing campaign. If you’re already blogging, have you noticed what type of blog posts seem to get the most readers and do the posts with the most hits seem to inspire more comments from your audience? Have you had any negative comments and how do you usually deal with them? Do you ignore them or do you respond in a calm and measured manner? It would be interesting to hear how bloggers respond to the comments left by their readers – these comments are a golden opportunity to engage in a digital conversation with customers and prospective customers. Do you have any favourite blogs (either within your sector or outside it) and do you sometimes share these with your readers? If you’re not already blogging, it’s never too late to start – don’t get left behind in the business of blogging.
Jonny Ross is the Founder/Director of Leeds based Jonny Ross Consultancy, an SEO, social media, digital marketing consultancy and web development agency. With many years experience and a proven track record in the field of retail e-commerce, he specializes in providing and enhancing social and digital services in the B2B and B2C sectors.