Using Your Blog to Grow Your Business

You have a great website, it looks good, has good copy and some visitors have even told you they like it...

But, you’re still not getting the volume of business you were hoping for...

This could be because you are not using, or are under-using, the most valuable marketing tool on your website; your blog!!!

Why is your blog so important?

It's all about Content Marketing...

Content Marketing is all about sharing content with your target audience. It helps build relationships with your visitors, who are also your potential customers, and used wisely it can increase sales without the need to resort to old-fashioned "hard selling".

The most popular content marketing technique these days is to post articles to your blog regularly. Instead of traditional "outbound marketing" (newspaper advertising, brochures, leaflets and cold calling), where you go to your prospective customers, the concept of "inbound marketing", or content marketing, is to have your customers come to you...

As this is a far less time-consuming, less stressful, and indeed more profitable form of marketing, it is something you should be embracing in your own business strategy.

So let’s look at some sound reasons why you should be blogging, and blogging regularly...
(if your website doesn't have a blog - get your webmaster to set one up for you)

#1: Better exposure on the Internet

Many business websites consist of anything between 3-12 pages, including the standard pages such as "Welcome", "About", "Contact" etc. While those standard pages do their job in providing information that changes infrequently, they aren't enough on their own to bring the volume of traffic to your website that your business requires in order to make sales in sufficient volumes (and indeed to pay for the occasional site redesign). This is where your blog comes in...

Every article you add to your blog creates another listing for your site in Google and other search engines. Therefore increasing the chances of your website being found by people who are searching the web for products or services like yours. If your blog has 5 articles, it will have 5 listings in Google, but if it has 500 articles, that's 500 listings in Google - so the sky is the limit here - increasing your exposure in Google is easy if you blog frequently - even one blog post per week gives you 52 new listings in Google per year, the more Google listings you have the more chance of making sales - it is as simple as that. And this is exactly what your competitors are doing!

#2: More exposure on Social Media

Your potential customers are most likely already using social media such as Twitter and Facebook; so you should be there too if you want them to be able to find you easily. By setting up your blog properly you can take advantage of the Social Media phenomenon. Your blog gives you something valuable to share on social media. Every blog post can, if your blog is set up properly, automatically tweet itself to Twitter or post itself to Facebook and so exponentially increase the number of visitors drawn to your website.

Apart from your blog sharing your posts on social media, if your blog has "share" buttons at the end of each article then your visitors also have the chance to share your content to their followers, i.e. promoting your website even further afield, without you having to pay for this extra, and free, advertising of your business (if your blog does not have "share" buttons ask your webmaster to set them up for you).

#3: Making a connection with your visitors

Sometimes your visitor needs more than just your standard information before they are willing to buy your products or services. These days they are more likely to want answers to questions that your standard pages don't answer, like "are you actually still in business?".

Unfortunately many websites get built, and then never get touched again, and those sites put their visitors off in droves. Because if the last update to your website was months or years ago, how can your visitors be sure you haven't shut up shop? or gone bankrupt? epecially if the most recent item they can find on your website is months or years old.

By regularly updating your website blog you can allay these fears and show your visitors that yes, you are still in business, but also that you care about giving them something new each time they visit. This then extends the time your visitors stay on your site, increasing your chance of making a sale.

The standard pages of your website, such as Home, About, Services etc., need to be concise and to the point. But your blog really gives you the chance to show your potential customers what you, your company, your products, your services etc., are really all about.

Your blog gives you the chance to turn visitors who are unsure about becoming customers, into customers, it gives you a real chance to stop them walking away from your website because they wanted more than your standard info - they wanted to know more about you, more about your services and particularly wanted to be sure you are still in business before risking their money on you or your services.

If your content is months or years old it gives the impression to visitors that either you are now out of business, or worse, that you really do not care about the experience visitors have on your website - and if you don't care, why should they?

#4: Open up Communications

If your blog also features a comment form (ask your webmaster to set this up if it doesn't) then every blog post gives your visitors another opportunity to get in touch with you. Some visitors might not even think about using your Contact Form for a query that your normal pages did not answer for them, but if they like your blog post they may choose to comment at the end of the post.

When they do leave a comment this gives you an opportunity to reply and so start a discussion and shows the visitor that you really do care, and are really there to assist them with all their queries. Most blog comment systems also allow reply notifications, so any visitor that left a comment gets notified automatically when you reply - therefore giving you opportunities to bring those one-off visitors back to your website - an opportunity that you would never have had otherwise.

People suspect that replying to visitor comments can be too time-consuming - but it's really nowhere near as time-consuming as you think. If you pop into your website every day or so you should be able to publish all good comments, and reply to those that warrant a reply, within a few minutes.

Some people think a blog that allows comments will attract negative feedback - this is not something that you should worry about at all (ask your webmaster to ensure the comment system he installs saves all comments for moderation) if your comments are held for moderation by you or your staff, and so are never published on your site unless you approve them. Comments are not then published at all, but instead are held in your site Admin until you either approve or deny them - if you approve them, they then get instantly published and become visible on your site, whereas if you deny them they are simply deleted and have never appeared on your site - so negative feedback is a non-issue.

And of course, if you receive some great reviews or praise in the comments on your Blog - this will be great for business!

So you see, your blog can open an invaluable communication channel between yourself and your visitors - which is surely the entire point of putting your business on the web in the first place...

#5: Networking

By talking on your blog about other companies in your own industry you can create some really useful networking opportunities. I am not saying you should mention your competitors, and so risk losing business to them - but if you were a car hire company, a mention for Ford or Peugeot cars, or Pirelli Tyres, could open the doors to future partnerships or sponsorships.

#6: Promotion of your business

Your blog is a great way to let people know about all your new or upcoming projects, any new products or services you have created, any trade shows you will be attending, any industry awards you have achieved - in fact anything about your company that is news...

#7: Boosting your website in the search engines

Apart from having more pages in your site indexed in the Google and other search engines, there are several other positive benefits of using a blog on your website.

Basically, the more often new content is added your website, the more frequently the search engines, such as Google, will visit your website, and so your new content gets indexed faster. So if you make an important announcement, and your blog is updated frequently, then your new article appears in the search engines far faster than it would if your website has had no new content for several weeks, months, or, God forbid, years...

Google is the king of search engines - and like all search engines they really don't want to send their users to content that is out of date or to websites that appear to be "out of business". So by regularly adding new posts to your blog you are sending a signal to Google that your business is actually still alive and kicking.

#8: Links from other websites

Getting other websites to link to your website is actually one of the best ways to improve the Google ranking of your website. By publishing new articles to your blog you are creating content that other websites might want to link to, in order to inform their own visitors of changes/updates in the industry or your locality. Your normal, frequently unchanged "information" pages are unlikely to earn such valuable links from other websites, but it’s a lot more likely a frequently updated blog, on a variety of subjects, will prove valuable enough that other sites in your industry sector will be inspired to link to your blog so their own visitors can read about you, your company, your products or your services.

So there you have it, if you want more customers, get blogging - and blog often - aim for at least once a week, twice a week will bring you more results, while blogging daily will bring you astonishing results.

Note: If you are a CMS Wales client and don't have a blog, or have a blog but it does not have a comments system, contact the office to talk about what is required.