This is probably one of the terms in the A-Z that needs little introduction – if you’re here now you’re reading a blog – in it’s most simplistic form an online discussion or an informational site.
Blogs began life as what I like to call ‘virtual soapboxes’, online platforms for individuals to shout about everything they loved, hated or felt passionate about.
Marketers eventually caught onto the phenomenon as a method of reaching out to engage a remote audience. Businesses could also shout about things they felt passionate about, namely themselves and their products.
Today blogging is an essential component of any content marketing strategy. Need proof? A recent Hubspot survey found that 60% of businesses who blog acquire more customers.
Blogs were something of a revelation for online marketing – not only did a blog allow a business to directly engage with their customer base but business owners found they no longer had to utilise expensive advertising agencies.
In one fell swoop a business saved on the precious marketing budget AND gained greater control over its marketing decisions. The ‘middle man’ was well and truly cut out.
‘Free advertising?’ I hear you say, ‘we’ll have some of that please!’
Well, yes, blogging is essentially a free marketing activity which is, to paraphrase that great wordsmith Tony the Tiger, gggggggggreat! But to the average business owner (by average read busy, busy, busy) they are also darn hard work!
Blogs aren’t just about words, however. They take many forms and the format that works best for you will depend on the nature of your business. In the past blogs have typically been simple, text-based applications like WordPress but developments mean blogs can now be far more dynamic. Today, blogs take a variety of forms:
- Photoblogs that feature pictorial updates like Pinterest;
- Video blogs (‘vlogs’) where the blog is delivered in a video format;
- Music blogs on websites like The Hype Machine that deliver content through music;
- Podcasts are a form of blog usually posted in an episodic series available for online streaming or download.
Establishing which blog format works best for your business may take some time and experimentation. For some businesses it is a very easy decision. ‘Visual’ businesses, for example food or handmade producers, often find Pinterest to be the perfect outlet for their creative endeavours. For others, particularly B2B companies, the decision can be harder to arrive at.
For starters it can be useful to consider the type of information you wish to communicate and the audience you want to reach. Regardless of the type of business you operate the benefits of having an online presence are enormous. Here are just a couple of reasons why your business will benefit from a blog:
You will become an expert in your field
By sharing your knowledge, you secure yourself as a subject expert and leading voice within your field. Imagine the impact of linking a confused customer to informational content written by you!
You will enhance your online brand
Regularly updating your blog means that you consistently have to evaluate who you are posting for and why. This only serves to sharpen and preserve your business focus. Moreover, a blog ensures that you are focused on your marketing strategy. It is far easier to continuously deliver relevant content when sticking to a schedule!
I often talk with business owners who tell me their customers aren’t online which is rubbish! Almost everyone is online in some shape or form these days, perhaps not in a business capacity, but the influence of a strong and pervasive online presence should never be underestimated for its ultimate effect on your bottom line.
Are you a B2B struggling to find your online audience? Do you want to gets to grips with this pinning malarkey but not sure how? Get in touch and we’ll show you how to start creating your own stories.