Successful Business Blogging, It’s Easier Than You Think

Successful Business Blogging, It’s Easier Than You Think
A blog acts like the front door of a business on the Internet. If that entrance shines with a vibrant welcome, visitors will arrive in droves, increasing the chances that they eventually turn into customers. If it seems stale and foreboding, it can actually drive people away, doing the business more harm than good. Answering the following questions can help turn a business blog into a successful marketing tool.
Who is the Audience?
Because the blog’s users determine the design and content of what appears on line, they require definition even before the pages are planned. For example, a target audience of college students may want web pages full of flashy widgets and social sharing buttons with content that is heavy on animation. In contrast, if the intended users are senior citizens, they may want minimal controls that are easy to use and content that centers on well-written text. The following questions can help define the audience.

  • What are the genders, ages, and races of the target readers?
  • What is their educational and technical background?
  • Are they coupled up or single? Do they have children or pets?
  • Do they live in single-family homes or condos? Where are they located?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What do they like to do for fun?
  • What problems do they have that the business hopes to solve?
The blog must ultimately provide for the needs of the users in order to become successful.
What is the Blog’s Purpose?
Beyond engaging potential customers, the blog requires a clearly defined reason for being. Why would anyone want to read its pages? What makes it different from all others in the blogosphere? If the blog is simply about advertising a company’s goods and services, then the only readers who will want to read it are company employees. The site and everything in it should center on the audience exclusively with the business being mentioned only when necessary.

What are the Goals of the Blog?
The goals of a blog can be more company-centered. 

  • What does the business hope to gain through this type of Internet exposure?
  • Is the site supposed to encourage potential customers to visit a brick-and-mortar store?
  • Will it link to a e-commerce pages and an online shopping cart?
  • Or is it purely informational, designed to establish credibility and authority with its audience?
 
Specific goals are more achievable and measurable than general ones. Receiving 1,000 unique views a day is something that can be reached. Getting lots of users is too general to ever happen.

What Brand Does the Blog Develop?
A blog’s brand is how it appears to the reader and includes the blog name, design, font, colors, style, and content. It must appeal to the target audience, be consistent, and must subtly promote the message the business wants to convey. For companies on a budget, hiring a professional to develop this aspect of the site can be money well spent, especially if no one in the company has web design expertise. The brand acts as the foundation on which the rest of the blog is built.

How Often Should Messages Be Posted?
Users who visit a blog expect to find something new. If they do, they’ll stick around and may explore other postings that lead to a purchase. If they don’t, they’ll leave, eliminating any opportunity that the business may have to gain a new customer. Posting one new message a day encourages potential customers to come as often. The frequency will not tax the blog writer. When a blog becomes more popular, it may need several posts a day to grow more users. For greater effectiveness, posts must be made regularly. This sets up expectations in users that can only be fulfilled by visiting the site.

What is the Schedule of Content?
An editorial schedule allows blog writers to look ahead and gives them something to write about all the time. It also allows editors to plan posts that are current to a user’s life at particular times. For example, December posts can talk about the Christmas season, June messages can prepare readers for the summer, and September writing can address the upcoming school year. The schedule is a useful road map to follow but is not set in stone. Blog writers should remain flexible enough to address an event that’s outside the schedule, such as when a sudden spike in wholesale prices requires an increase in the price of goods for sale.

Who is Going to Write the Blog?
When a blog is new and requires few posts, the business owner can be responsible for writing all the posts. This ensures consistency of voice and message. As the blog becomes more popular, several writers may be necessary to keep up with reader demand. Will they consist of other company employees, amateurs who can write for free, or professional wordsmiths hired from outside? Will posts need to be vetted by the owner or an editor? This will take additional time and resources but guarantees that any writing says only what the business wants to convey. If outside writers are hired, writing standards will need to be developed so that posts sound like they come from the same business. 

What Should Be in Each Post?
At the very least, a post consists of text. 

  • Several shorter posts that can be easily digested are preferable to one long post that takes time to read and can be intimidating to look at.
  • Paragraphs should be no longer than five lines and sentences must be concise to hold reader interest.
  • Lists, tables, and subtitles can break up a long expanse of writing and make it easier to scan.
  • Numbers can show importance of listed items as well as the sequence in which a procedure must be performed.
Another way to break up text is to use plenty of photographs. 

  • Graphics attract the eye and can convey messages without the use of words, which can be an advantage when dealing with an international audience.
  • While professional pictures are best, they can be expensive to produce. Smartphone photos are easily taken and provide a sense of immediacy and authenticity.
  • Pictures with people in them are preferable to those that show only objects. Relationships, such as a couple or mother and child, showing interaction with what you produce can be attractive.
  • Captions by each photo can clarify what is being depicted.
  • Although photos are plentiful on the Internet, only those that are copyright-free, bought from legitimate sources, or taken by the business owner belong on the blog. Otherwise, the picture owner may sue the business and have it shut down for copyright violations.
How is the Blog Marketed?
There’s a misconception that once a business blog appears on the Internet, it will suddenly attract a following. Any such site has to compete with millions of other blogs, some of which are targeted to the same audience as the original business. Marketing is just as important to a blog as it is to a company’s product a service. Several options are available.

  • Adding the blog address to every company communication, such as brochures, business cards and websites.
  • Putting the blog address on receipts and invoices.
  • Guest posting on the blogs of complementary companies and linking the post to the blog.
  • Commenting on other blogs with a link.
  • Participating in relevant forums and then linking the signature to the blog.
  • Buying ads through Google.
  • Hiring a professional to develop and carry out a marketing plan for the blog.
 
How Is Success Measured?
Visitors may comment that the blog is excellent but their words are a subjective way to measure blog success. A more meaningful and objective method is to use both free and paid measurement systems such as Google Analytics. These systems look at the number of visitors the blog receives, how long each user stays, and what pages they look at, and compare these numbers to similar blogs. They may also recommend methods to improve the blog’s visibility, such as by adding more pictures, or making content more relevant.

Starting With a Plan
Answering these questions costs nothing but time and can go a long way in developing a site that the target audience will want to visit. Planning is the key to creating a blog that will improve business and attract new customers.
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