Websites that exist for informational or ordering purposes only are quickly going the way of the dinosaur. Today, customers expect to interact with a business on a more personal level. One way to accomplish this personal connection is through a blog. Mid-sized companies can use a blog to generate the same internet marketing muscle as larger competitors by following a few basic rules of engagement.
Define The Purpose
The blog must provide a return that justifies the time, effort and financial investment needed to create and maintain it. Accomplish this by defining the blog's purpose. Do you want to establish your company as an industry expert, drive sales or use it to boost or support your social media presence? The purpose(s) you identify will create the outline for the blog's strategic plan.
Investigative research is not an option; it's a requirement for a success. Visit the blogs of other companies in your industry. Which ones have the best following? What is their posting schedule? What type of information are they posting? Your research will reveal the blog type that is best suited for your industry and may even spark creative ideas that will help you stand out from the competition.
Establish A Team
Few business owners have the time to create, update and maintain a blog. Some are not able to dedicate the time of one employee to the task. Overcome this obstacle by using the team approach. Scrutinize the talent within your organization to identify product or service experts, writing talent, and organizational ability. Once identified, create a team and delegate responsibility for each specific blog area.
Trust is the key to developing a loyal following. Your blog should inform followers of when to check back for new information. Avoid the tenancy to overstep your ability to deliver by creating a publication schedule based on your available resources, not your initial desires. Never allow a follower to be disappointed by your failure to post fresh content as promised. You can always increase the number of weekly postings as you become more proficient.
Cater to your audience by posting content that has meaning. The information can be informative or entertaining, depending on the needs of your followers. Don't limit the content to driving sales. Offering free information, tips, and plans is an essential part of successful internet marketing. It shows your concern is for the needs of your customers, not just the almighty dollar. It builds trust and credibility and increases the likelihood that your followers will buy from you.
If your organization is blessed with talent, use it. Don't be afraid to have more than one person who authors articles on a regular basis. People are drawn to others for different reasons. The expert who posts on Monday may appeal to a different set of followers than the one who authors the Wednesday posts. And, don't be afraid to venture outside of your organization. For example, a supplier may have valuable input that can offer a win-win for both companies.
Plan In Advance
Create an editorial calendar to help you track and manage the blog. An editorial calendar contains the title of the article, the author, the due date, and the post date. Ideally, the due date should be at least 4 weeks prior to the publication date to allow for editing or rewrites. Go the extra step by generating 4 or 5 backup articles to use in the event a scheduled article cannot be published on time.
Feedback is vital to establishing the blog's credibility and as a two-way communication channel. However, feedback that is extremely negative, unwarranted or offensive can turn away other followers. Feedback that is 100% positive is just as damaging. Protect your company's reputation by setting the blog to allow for permission before feedback is posted. Don't be afraid to post negative comments, but instead, use them to justify your company's position.
A blog is a valuable internet marketing tool, but only if it drives traffic to your website. Make the investment count by continually comparing your predetermined goals to the results and adjust your strategy or approach as needed. Use follower feedback as a tool to develop new content and to identify the content type that generates the most response.
Maciej (ma-chi) is the SEO Director of a Naples, FL based inbound marketing company, Brandignity, helping small to mid-sized businesses with full service SEO plans, pay per click advertising, blog writing and social media.