After being immersed in the Internet marketing industry and experimenting with dozens of different online marketing methods, I have found blogging to be one of the most effective business marketing tools. Not only does a business blog provide a space for fresh, regularly updated content (which search engines love), when done correctly a business blog can establish a loyal group of customers and promoters.
However, I have seen some companies make a number of mistakes with their business blogs. These mistakes can cause you to waste a great deal of resources on your business blog with little or no return on investment. There are many factors that make a business blog successful or a flop. In this article, I’ll touch on the three of the most critical strategies for building an effective business blog.
Establishing an Overall Mission and Purpose for Your Business Blog
Though this may seem elementary, it’s amazing how many business blogs do not seem to have an established purpose! What need is your business blog going to fill for its readers? What topics are you going to cover on your blog? Having a clearly defined written ‘purpose’ for your business blog will help ensure that your blog content will stay on target and on topic so that you deliver what your readers expect every time.
Many business blogs make the mistake of writing content that is of interest to their peers rather than their target audience. If one of your interests is to sell products, it is important that you create a blog that will be beneficial to your target audience.
Consider your business blog like a magazine. When you pick up your favorite magazine from the rack, you have a pretty good idea about what will be in the magazine. People subscribe to magazines only when they have a sense that the content in the magazine will be consistently relative to their interests.
The same goes for a business blog. One of the primary goals of a blog is to establish a large subscription base. This you can do by consistently posting content that is interesting to your audience. Clearly defining the mission and purpose of your blog provides you with a guideline for creating content that is consistently useful to your readers.
Blog Marketing: Tell Don’t Sell
Blogs aren’t really the place for a big heavy sales pitch. Having too many products on your page is the fastest way to turn off blog readers. Heavy-handed sales tactics just don’t fly in the blogosphere.
I’ve worked with some companies that were so worried about not sounding too promotional that they took their business blog to the opposite extreme. Reading their blog, you would have no idea what the company was or what they sold. One didn’t even have link back to their website! The key to creating effective business blogs is to find the right balance.
One way that you can introduce your products without being pushy is by choosing a layout that allows you to feature some of your products on every page. A two or three column blog layout works well for this purpose, as does a blog layout with several ‘feature’ boxes at the top.
Not ‘hiding’ the fact that you have something to offer helps you to establish your business as an expert in your niche. Readers begin to trust your content and learn to like you – and therefore are more likely to buy the products and services you offer.
Finding Your Voice
One of the greatest mistakes a people tend to make when creating a business blog is to write in ‘corporatese’ as opposed to a more conversational tone. Just like there is a certain accepted writing style for a press release or an editorial article, there is also a particular accepted writing style for blogs.
The most effective and popular business blogs have a personal voice. This scares some businesses and corporations – but it doesn’t have to! Select a few key company representatives as the personalities of the business blog. If you’re worried about giving people the right to instantly publish content, you can set up a system so that no post goes live without the approval of a single individual whose role is to ensure that the blog remains consistent and professional.
Have each person include their photo in the about page or even in the post with multi-author blogs. Post authors should respond to comments and engage in dialogue with readers in order to build and enhance relationship. Blog marketing is very much ‘relationship marketing.’ Responding to reader comments and questions is an important duty of a business blog writer or another assigned person within the organization.
Though a blog can be set up in a matter of minutes, there is a lot of planning and strategy that goes into creating a truly effective business blog. Starting you planning session by tackling these three core points is a great way to get your business blog off to an effective start!