Expert Round Up: Does Your Business Need a Blog?

Alannah

Most businesses seem to have blogs on their website now. Blogging as a business can appear intimidating and it can be hard to figure out whether it’s worthwhile for you. Because a lot of time and effort goes into creating a blog, it’s something worth careful consideration. To help you figure out whether your business needs a blog, we’ve rounded up opinions from industry experts.

Engage with Influencers

“A blog is a powerful platform for engaging with valuable online influencers to extend the reach of your brand as well as build trust and recognition.”

Blog content goes hand in hand with influencer marketing. In fact, I would say that Content + Influence = Confluence marketing. In other words, blogging is as much about building relationships as it is about writing content – but only if you create ‘the right’ type of content.

So what’s the best way to go about it?

Find a compelling story that is of interest to a targeted influencer (like a local newspaper, for example). Create compelling content around that story and use it to reach out. Content oriented, online outreach is arguably the most effective way to build relationships and grow your reach and visibility. For example, we created a list of the best business ideas from University Entrepreneurs and shared it with the media. It was picked up by USA Today and published nationally, leading to plenty of juicy backlinks from top media houses and leading Universities.

We enjoyed valuable backlinks from top influencers and also used this opportunity to establish relationships with them. They now approach us with news about new ideas and business competitions in the hope we’ll provide coverage. It’s a powerful position to be in for any small business.”

– David Mercer, Founder, SME Pals

“My number one social media avenue for businesses is blogging. Once you get the hang of it, blogging is pretty easy to do. Blogging should be used to position you as an expert. When you write a blog consistently you’ll have original content that you can repurpose over and over again, especially on those other social media platforms.

Once you start blogging, look for other bloggers that focus on your area of business and comment on their blogs. Find online forums that concentrate on your area of expertise and insert yourself into the conversation. The goal here is to get people interested in you so they start to mention you on their blogs. As you develop relationships with bloggers, offer your original content for their blogs. You can also ask them to be guest bloggers on you blog.

Word travels very fast in cyberspace so be sure to provide quality information that will help people. After a while, you’ll find your own voice and learn how to tell your own stories. One of the biggest challenges to blogging is consistency. You have to decide how frequently you are going to blog and then do it.”

– Joan McCoy, General Manager, Business 360 Northwest

Broaden Your Audience

“Blogging is essential for any business from a technical and emotional standpoint.  From a technical standpoint, well-planned content written with SEO in mind will help you rank higher in Google searches.  Use your blog to solve problems your customers regularly face. It will help your blog rank higher on Google, ensuring more people hear about your brand.

Emotionally, blogging also builds trust. Consumers see you’re solving their problems and that builds a rapport. Over time, that rapport can turn someone into a customer. Go the next step and share your content with brands or businesses that complement yours. This cross-pollination is a fantastic way to get your brand in front of an already curated audience. A word of warning – don’t be boring. Shake things up, ruffle a few feathers. No one likes boring.”

– Phil Forbes, CMO, Shoplo

“We tell our attorney clients that the reason they need a blog is because prospective clients find their attorneys in primarily two ways:
1. They type their legal question into a search engine and read an article that answers the question. If the article gives a call to action to contact the attorney, then the attorney gets the lead.

2. Referrals. If attorneys are not consistently putting their name and brand out on social media with good content then they do not stay top of mind for referrals.”

– Marlet Edwards, CEO & Founder, ScrollDigital

Talk To Your Consumers

“It is crucial to maintain a business blog. Not only do you need to grow your followers but this allows for future constant contact with customers who sign up for your blog. As an Immigration and Employment Law Firm, we maintain a very informative blog where we explain new legislation and executive orders. We receive a lot of comments and questions on our material as well. This is how we are able to convert these followers into customers. We help with Visas and Green cards a lot and there are always application questions. The key is to keep your blog informative. If it doesn’t inform people or catch people’s attention then it is pretty much spam. And nobody likes spam.”

– Jose Martinez, Director of Marketing, Coane and Associates PLLC

“It is important for companies of all shapes and sizes to maintain a company blog. Your consumers, whether they are customers or businesses, are a community that needs to be maintained. Even if the blog is only used to send out press releases and important announcements, it’s still good to have that official avenue of communication. Wise and experienced consumers always do their research on the companies they are potentially buying from and a blog with established content is usually seen as a good sign. Another benefit from having a blog is that sometimes, news sites will quote or source from your articles, which could result in links back. All in all, it’s good for companies to consider having a blog – whether it is populated by articles written by in-house staff or you outsource the writing to freelancers – both can be effective.”

– Caleb Chen, Director of Marketing, London Trust Media Inc.

“A blog for your business is like having a digital business card. Actually, it’s far beyond that. It’s the most powerful tool in your marketing toolbox. The reason is simple. A blog allows you to connect with millions of people instantaneously. With a blog, you can hone in on any individual product and service. This allows you to deliver specified content to your customers, setting you above your competition. The best thing is you can target directly to your niche market using powerful SEO tools. In my opinion, there’s no better way to connect with current and potential customers than through a blog. Best part of all, the more you add blog posts, the higher your whole website will rank on search engine results. Also, when you combine a blog’s potential with geo-targeting tools (such as Google maps, Yelp, Trip Adviser), the results are even more incredible. With an active blog, you can rise above the competition and stick out like an ugly flower. My personal favorite attribute to a blog is the flexibility. With a blog, there are no rules. You are the author and creator of the posts, so you have full control of what to say and how you deliver the content. Blogging is my preferred and most successful method of retaining and gaining new clients and also converting leads.. In conclusion, a blog, if done correctly, can have a significant positive impact on your business.”

– Michael Tamez, Owner, Sunshine Gold Investments

Improve Search Engine Optimization

“Now more than ever, it is important for businesses to have a blog. From an SEO perspective, blog posts assist with adding fresh content and allow the business to focus directly on a specific keyword string with the post. From a brand perspective, blogging allows businesses to stand out from the crowd and differentiate your business from its competitors. Blogs allow a business to show their thought leadership, authoritative content, and share their expertise. The blog feature is also an ideal place to add case studies, white papers, and other pertinent content pieces. Without a blog, the online experience for a user visiting a business website is static and stale.”

– Steve Ryan, Founder & CEO, RyTech

“A blog for your business assists in building trust with your prospective customers and in search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
First, when prospective customers reach your website, they have to not only need what your business offers, but also have to trust that you’re worthy of being compensated for what you’re offering. Imagine a business website without a blog compared to one with a blog. The business without the blog can only ever rely on their sales copy to earn the customer inquiry or sale. The business with the blog can rely on sales copy AND helpful, valuable content about their industry to not only educate the prospect, but also trigger the notion that this business truly knows what they’re doing and is worthy of purchasing from.

Second, blog content greatly assists in the “heavy lifting” of your site’s SEO. Without a blog, a search engine might only have a few thousand words to index and therefore, has a harder time ranking highly. With a blog, a search engine now has tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, eventually millions of words to index, obviously encouraging a higher ranking.”

– Britney Kolodziej, Owner & CEO, JAM Marketing Group

“Blogging is one of the safest, simplest and most organic methods of keeping your website updated with fresh, original content. If you are an e-commerce business, having regularly-updated content on your site is a huge part of a successful SEO strategy. It is your chance to insert a sensible sprinkling of keywords into your site’s content to maintain a strong position in the search engine rankings.

A blog helps you to establish a tone of voice that should be communicated throughout the rest of your website’s content. This also extends to social media, e-marketing and traditional media.”

– Steve Pritchard, Search Content Manager, giffgaff

“Blogs provide businesses two clear benefits. A weekly or monthly blog enables businesses to share their expertise concerning industry related news, topics, or events. Businesses with a blog can form a more loyal customer base by sharing insightful narratives and analyses that benefit the customer. The second and most overlooked benefit of a business blog is search engine optimization (SEO). Using targeted keywords for your blogging makes it easier for potential customers to find your business when searching terms on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. More website traffic typically means more business!”

– Seth Gilgus, Digital Marketing Specialist, Online Optimism

Stretching Yourself Too Thin

“It is not always important for your business to have a blog. If your blog is not maintained well, it will do more harm than good for a users perception of your company. You may think you are giving Google what you need to rank higher, but chances are if your content is slim and rushed, no one will want it, including Google.

Instead of stretching your resources to add new content to a blog all the time, look at making improvements to your existing website pages. By improving these and making them great resources for your users, you will grab the attention of Google as well. You will also save yourself from feeling a burden of updating a blog constantly that most people for get exists.

A blog is not as important if you have a great website that answers users’ questions.”

–Dustin Montgomery, Digital Marketing Director, Shippers Supplies

Establish Yourself as an Expert

“A blog post is a fantastic way to engage new and existing customers. If the company can establish itself as an authority on a given subject, the brand is more likely to develop reader trust and garner consideration for purchase. Blog posts also allow customers to interact more directly with a brand.
When a company has a blog focused on consistently providing exceptional value for their customers, it can drive traffic to the website, and help increase organic search visibility. A company can even evaluate gaps in content through keyword research, which will help to establish the brand as an authority in their field and drive more organic traffic to their website.”

– Scott Drayer, VP of Marketing, Paul Fredrick Menswear

“A blog is a powerful selling tool for three reasons:

1) If you want to rank high for SEO, then you need to have a blog that contains great content. According to MOZ, 99% of all the front page results have external links leading back to them and a blog with great content provides the most compelling reason for other people to link to your site.

2) It establishes your expertise. A blog is your chance to show off your skills and impress prospects by demonstrating that you have great insight.

3) It provides a value-exchange with your potential customers. Business is about relationships and a blog is a great way to nurture those with your audience.”

– David Tile, Founder, Article Writing Company

“Yes, your business needs a blog, BUT the blogging of 2014 is no longer acceptable. Businesses can’t just throw up a post on “5 things you need to know about X” and call it a day. Google has gotten smarter, and it can differentiate between actual useful, well-crafted content and fluff. Therefore, it’s important to use your business’ blog to become an informational hub for your industry, sharing long-form, well-researched, “ultimate guide” style content that positions you as THE source for knowledge about your field. This builds trust with readers, gives search engines something to grab onto and turns your site into a resource library rather than just an advertisement. ”

– Tami Brehse, COO, Reboot Marketing

“An active company blog is one of the best ways a brand can establish themselves as a thought leader in their industry. The best way to make your blog heard is to determine your strategy and what you want to get out of blogging. Whether you plan on interviewing other successful small businesses, offering up tips and advice, or taking your readers on a look at what happens behind the scenes at your business, you should have a strategic plan for determining the kind of content that your audience needs and will return back to you for more.”

– Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation.com

Create a Brand Personality

“Most people see their blog as an SEO tactic, and while that’s true, SEO shouldn’t be the primary reason you write for and maintain a corporate blog.

Writing quality blog posts allow you tocommunicate your brands personality in a way you might not be able toon service or product pages.

It also allows you to provide key insight on your industry and separate your company as a thought leader.

Focus on writing good content, not a lot of content. Focus on topics that your peers and customers would appreciate, not just regurgitated jargon speak that’s been said a million times.

It’s difficult, but if done right, it can be wildly effective.”

– Jeff Gapinski, Creative Director & Co-Founder, Huemor

“It’s definitely a challenge putting time, thought, caring and good information into each post, let alone the graphics and/or pictures to go with it. But it is so important for a few reasons. First and foremost I think it connects you to your brand.. It makes your audience see the “you” behind the product and not just the product itself.
I know it has made me more introspective, sharing more stories of my life and work, the same way I would chat with a customer if they came into my shop.

I think when a customer connects with you and your brand, they want to purchase from you. Again and again. It is a way to share your knowledge and prove on a regular basis that you are an expert in your field.

I really think there is no downside!”

– Roberta Perry, Founder, ScrubzBody

“As an end-to-end content marketing service, we see the benefits generating great content provides to businesses every single day. Not only are they building evergreen assets but they’re demonstrating their value in the market, thereby growing the trust of their prospects and their industry.

Blogging allows you to build a public image of your company (i.e. brand) on your terms. You decide what to create and how you come across to your prospects.

Content converts and the proof is in the pudding. Businesses leading in content marketing generate 100+ inbound leads per month. Businesses doing content marketing well generate 10-20 leads per month. Marketers who prioritize bogging are 13x more likely to enjoy a positive return on investment.

Additionally, content opens multiple avenues for growth for your email list subscribers and via organic traffic to your site.

Ultimately, businesses who are not blogging are missing out on the potential to engage their audience and nurture leads into conversions.”

– Simon Thompson, Founder, Content Kite

Be Consistent

“Research shows that blogging continues to be incredibly valuable for businesses. In fact, small companies that blog receive 126% more leads than those that don’t, 81% of online consumers in the U.S trust information from blog posts and 61% have made a purchase based on a blog’s recommendations.

To blog effectively for a business, it’s important brands publish articles consistently (down to the same day/time), write posts that are of interest to their target consumers, use keywords in a natural way throughout the post and publicize their articles once they’re live (social media and e-newsletters are a great way to do this).”

– Emily Sidley, Senior Director of Publicity, Three Girls Media Inc. 

“Blogs are an essential part of content marketing because they provide information to consumers that both educates them on a topic and interests them in your business. But it’s not enough to just have a blog, business owners need to post regularly and effectively on it. An outdated blog or one with boring posts is worse than no blog at all.”

– Simon Slade, CEO & Co-founder, SaleHoo

The experts we asked are nearly unanimous; most think that blogging is key to successful online marketing!

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