After being immersed in the Internet marketing industry for years 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 major flaws with their business blogs. These mistakes cause businesses to waste a great deal of resources on their business blogs 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 primary objectives is to sell products, it’s important to create a resource that will be of benefit 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 is done by consistently delivering content that is of interest to your readership base. 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: Telling Not Selling
Blogs are not the place for a heavy hitting sales pitch. In fact, being too salesy is the fastest way to turn off blog readers. Bloggers don’t mind that you are trying to promote something – most are. But 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. It’s perfectly fine to reference your products in your post in the context of a useful article that tells readers how to accomplish certain goals as opposed to a post that solely push your product. 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.