In 2007, the number of corporate brands using business blogs for marketing purposes was at just 16% according to eMarketer.
In 2012, that number was projected to be around 43%, which indicates that more companies are opening up to the idea of business blogging as an avenue to achieve their business goals.
Still, that leaves a significant number of businesses and corporate brands who have yet to adopt a blog. It has been my experience that when approaching businesses and corporate brands about getting a blog started, they have three main questions.
- What are the benefits of having a blog?
- How can we make our blog successful (which I will cover in my next post)?
- How will our blog drive business impact?
I will discuss the benefits of blogging for businesses in no particular order, as well as hint at some of the direct business impacts of having a blog.
1. Business Blogs Can Build Consumer Engagement
Blogs serve as an avenue from which good customer engagement can take place. Think about it – besides picking up the phone and calling you or visiting your business in person, where else would someone be able to have a direct conversation with someone in your company.
A couple ways in which you can engage your blog’s consumers:
- Answering comments they’ve left on your blog articles.
- Responding to comments or questions that you might through social media channels (if you’ve been savvy enough to cross-promote your blog posts there). See point #7.
- Sending out weekly email recaps of the week’s top blog posts to your subscriber-lists (see point #8), and answering consumer questions via email as they come in.
- Answer popular consumer questions through pre-recorded video responses, then post on your blog.
I’m sure there are more.
2. Blogging on Breaking News
Gone are the days of submitting traditional press releases as a means of updating the public on important company news. Granted, brands can (and should for links and further distribution) utilize press releases, many corporate brands now choose to to break news on their business blogs. For example, last week Google used their webmaster blog as a way to announce the release of Search Plus Your World.
In addition, corporate brands can also use their business blogs to address world news. This timely approach can show consumers that a business isn’t just thinking inside their own brand bubble, and is also addressing important events from the outside world. A great example I found of this in action was Southwest’s efforts through their blog to help consumers make donations to the Red Cross after Hurricane Irene.
3. Blogs Can Educate & Establish Trust
Brands using corporate business blogs can also leverage their content properties as a way to help their consumers learn about topics that are pertinent to the company, or about topics that are pertinent to the customer. This can be done in a few ways:
- How-To’s: Whole Foods blog teaches consumers how to cook vegetable bean soup
- Lifestyle: Zillow’s blog discusses financial questions to ask before you get married
- Holiday posts: Ford’s blog discusses chocolate, flowers, and Ford for Valentine’s day
This type of stuff goes a long way towards establishing expertise, credibility, and trust, all while giving your customers what the are asking for.
4. Keyword Targeting for SEO
Anyone who has worked in the digital department for a large corporate brand can probably attest to the hassles and legal approval processes that come along with making any and all changes to the website. Therefore, getting new website pages implemented (or making modifications to existing pages) to work towards your SEO goals can be a tricky and time-consuming matter.
Although every blog will still have a content strategy and approval process in place, most blogs offer a certain level of agility and flexibility to release new content on a regular basis.
What does this mean for SEO? Let’s say you identify a keyword that you’d like to target for your business. In order to target said keyword, you either need to tweak an existing page or create a new page to focus on said keyword.
Since we know making changes to the site is like telling an elephant to roller-skate up the side of a mountain while doing back-flips, using a blog post can be a quick way to target said keyword in the interim while you wait for the supporting topical page to be added to the regular site.
Doing this will give you a chance to rank for your keywords a bit more quickly, and if your brand is smart enough to layer subtle calls to action through the blog (along with some links to conversion pages), you will likely see some business impact.
5. Social Media Cross-Promotion
Another great thing about having a business blog for your corporate brand is that the opportunity exists for it to be cross-promoted via social media outlets. This social exposure typically happens in a few key ways:
- A lot of corporations have an abundance of content that may be considered stale and not worth sharing, OR the site’s purpose simply isn’t content (think airline and travel sites). In either case, the normal content on the site is unlikely to be “shareworthy,” meaning nobody will find it interesting or worthwhile enough to share in their social circles. Blogs can help corporate brands break that mold by enabling them to create content that is any mix of fun, interesting, relevant, and many angles of shareworthy.
- Blogs offer inherent advantages to promote social sharing via the various share buttons that are offered by the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. Most blog posts have some sort of social sharing option.
- If you have a business blog and social media pages, you can cross-promote your posts on say, your Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus brand page to increase its overall exposure, engagement, and likelihood of being reshared.
These are no-brainers though.
6. Link Building for SEO
Again, taking into consideration the notion of being shareworthy, blogs can often be more linkworthy than regular websites just due to their inherent nature and flexibility with writing good content.
A good blog post has the potential to get spread throughout your networks, shared, and often linked to our cited by other sites/blogs if the content is considered to be in some way useful.
Anyone who knows SEO knows how valuable it is to build high-quality links back to your website using targeted anchor text. For those that don’t, let me educate quickly. Acquiring a link back to your website is like a positive vote. The more positive votes (links) your site gets, the better. Furthermore, links from sites that themselves are considered authoritative (and having lots of links) are better than links that are less authoritative. Also, search engines look at the anchor text that people use to link to your site as an indication of your site’s relevance for that anchor text. So, ultimately, you want large quantities of high-value links using a variety of your target keywords as anchor text.
Whereas the process of link building can be very tedious and time-consuming, writing a good blog post can help your brand get backlinks in bundles with the right amount of exposure. This will create a good balance of manual effort versus letting your marketing do the work for you.
7. Recurring Traffic Base
Last but certainly not least, a blog can be a good way to build up a base of recurring traffic that will keep coming back to your site, and will eventually be clamoring for your next blog post (hopefully) if you write them well and give them things that are useful to them.
Through the magic of RSS feedreaders (like Feedburner, Feedblitz, or Rapid Feeds) and email subscription options, you can build a list of people who subscribe to your blog, many of whom will keep coming back in the future as you update. If these people aren’t your customers already, then I challenge you to find a better means of staying in front of them for a relatively low cost with as high a level of engagement? Not many.
Anyhow, I’m not saying that having a blog is the end-all-be-be-all or anything, and I’m not even saying that it will help your ROI, but what I am saying is that if you’re part of the over 50% of corporate brands that still don’t have a business blog, then you’re seriously missing out on another emerging way to converse with your consumers in the digital space.
What do you think? Should every corporate brand have a digital blog? Why or why not?
Stay tuned for my upcoming post on the things that need to be in place to make a corporate blog (or any blog) successful.