Over the past few weeks at Boston Digital, we launched a new website and modernized branding. After fifteen years in the business, I wanted to give the company a bit of a facelift: something that showed visually where we are in terms of success, growth, and spirit. And that brings us to the new blog.
Nowadays, content marketing is essential for businesses to generate new leads, expand their branding, and grow their business. And a blog is crucial for driving a lot of the efforts behind content marketing. I wanted to talk about why we at Boston Digital started ours in the hope that you might also consider creating your own.
Before You Get Started, Understand Your Goals
One of the first things we did during our initial planning of the blog was to identify our goals. Like any new business venture, before you create a blog, you must justify the business needs. In our case, we laid out three goals for our blog:
- Increase brand awareness
- Position Boston Digital as a thought leader
- Increase our search engine optimization rankings
We understood right away that our purpose is not to stand up on a soapbox and beg for your business. We don't want to use the blog as a sales platform. Instead, we want to educate, motivate, and cultivate our readers. We want the blog to be a new voice in the industry, shining light on new ideas, concepts, and opinions, and to provide content that you can take and incorporate into your own digital marketing strategies and tactics.
So let's get started immediately. Below you'll find five smart reasons to start a company blog.
1. Blogs Boost SEO
Oftentimes, businesses will create a website, write good content about their services and products, and then apply search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. They'll do their due diligence: partner with an SEO agency (or do it themselves) to research the keywords, write the metadata titles and descriptions, and implement the keywords on every page. But then what?
I Love the Smell of Fresh Content in the Morning
More often than not, the site remains static. Maybe a couple of news articles and events are added each month, but more or less the site never changes. This is especially true if your products or services never change, which means there's no need to update your site's content.
A blog, on the other hand, requires constant attention and addition. New, fresh, and valuable content is key. Search engines like Google love fresh content, and blogs provide you the opportunity to create a constant stream of new content.
Long-Tail vs. Head SEO
Furthermore, with blogs, you can focus on “long-tail” SEO terms, where your static website might only cater to “head” terms. Here's the difference between “head” and “long-tail” terms for a company that sells shoes:
- Head: running shoes
- Long-Tail: blue running shoes with black soles
Specific “head” terms, such as “running shoes,” receive more monthly searches than long-tail terms, yet long-tail terms are by far the most popular type of search. Think about it: you and a thousand other people may search for the head term “running shoes,” where the long-tail phrase “blue running shoes with black soles” is probably less popular. However, the average person will search for long-tail phrases more often because, as users, we're searching for something more specific than just “running shoes.”
A great illustration of the difference between head and long-tail SEO terms. Source: SEO Moz
The advantage of a blog is in creating content that is more likely to be discovered through long-tail searches. Where on your products page, you may be limited to keywords such as “running shoes” or “blue running shoes,” a blog gives you plenty of opportunities to target longer terms your customers are using.
2. Blogs Benefit Customer Service
If your business is in the service industry like ours, then creating exceptional customer service is probably one of the major differentiators between you and your competitors. Without good customer service, you might as well pack your bags and go home.
A blog can be an instrumental piece in your customer service strategy. After all, a blog removes the formal mess and is more casual. A blog brings your company to life by showcasing real people talking to other real people. It's beneficial to use a blog as another arm of your customer service model.
Use your blog to answer frequently asked questions. In any business, the same questions crop up over and over from customers. Use your blog as a forum for addressing the most common questions with a lot of detail. Then your customer service team can direct customers to these helpful posts later on. (Go the extra mile by creating video blog posts to further promote your personality.)
River Pools and Spas uses common customer questions as the genesis of every blog post Since its launch in 2009, the River Pools and Spas blog has gain national attention and increase revenue. Read the 2013 NY Times story.
3. Blogs Increase Leads/Sales
Let's not kid ourselves here. You're running a business, and, therefore, it only makes sense to ask where the return on investment (ROI) is on a blog. As I mentioned earlier, we chose to drive our blog away from direct sales, but that doesn't mean we don't expect to measure ROI, even if it's over a long period of time.
For those of you wishing to drive immediate sales, you're in luck. According to HubSpot's "State of Inbound 2014-2015 Report,” marketers who focus their efforts on developing a strong blog are thirteen times more likely to see a positive return on investment.
As explored in the SEO section above, your blog will inevitably drive more traffic to your website if you strategize your SEO plan and develop valuable content. Once you get visitors on your site, your next step is to convert them.
Two Methods for Converting Visitors
- Nurture your visitors by suggesting related content.
- Drive your visitors further down the customer funnel by offering a higher-quality piece of content they can download by filling out a form with their email address.
Either option can work depending on your strategy. Be sure to connect your blog with an automated marketing software to get the best bang for your buck.
4. Blogs Showcase Thought Leadership
Showcasing the ideas and opinions of our talented staff at Boston Digital is our most important goal for this blog. Is showing off your staff a goal as well? In your industry, you want to stand out from your competitors. You want to demonstrate your value and knowledge to prove that no company but yours can offer your level of service. Naturally, blogs offer this capability straight out of the box.
To best execute this plan, you may want to narrow down your blog's subject to one you and your team of writers can best dominate in terms of expertise. Defining your niche is paramount to connecting with the right readers.
You cannot expect to garner trust and respect if you do not stand behind your beliefs and defend them proudly.
Thought leadership requires making bold proclamations. You cannot expect to garner trust and respect if you do not stand behind your beliefs and defend them proudly. Invite guest bloggers in your field to challenge your ideas and offer counter arguments. By doing so, you demonstrate your arguments are not colored by bias but have been put under the microscope and have come out stronger than ever.
As you continue this strategy, your readers will rally behind your convictions, and your value will grow exponentially, strengthening your business.
5. Blogs Improve Your Knowledge and Skills
Somewhat related to “Blogs Showcase Thought Leadership,” a blog can also improve your own knowledge and skills overtime. Think about it: with each blog post you write, you'll want to do a bit of research up front to see what others are writing. You may want to read research papers, watch videos, or gather data in order to support the points you'll be blogging about. In turn, this will make you a better person in your career. A blog forces you to stay up to date with the latest ideas, trends, and technology. You must understand the current thoughts and conversations happening outside your office's four walls if you wish to speak intelligently about your subject.
A blog will force you out of your comfort zone. Where before you might have grown comfortable knowing your business and never needing to question your own decisions, a blog requires you to write down your thoughts, forcing you to scrutinize yourself and your ideas. As someone who has run his own business for more than fifteen years, challenging myself and my beliefs is an invaluable exercise.
My Blog's Up. Now What?
So you've taken my article to heart, and you're ready to tackle a blog for your company. Now what? If you never promote your blog, all the work you put into it won't mean anything. In future blog posts, my team and I will cover this in more depth, but I thought I'd leave a few quick tips to get your started.
- Share new posts on your social networks
- Promote posts through your email newsletters
- Include your blog in your email signatures and business cards
- Submit your blog to blog directories
- Tag your content with relevant hashtags to expand your reach