When talking with TopRank or M&O Account Teams about new clients, it is inevitable that I will ask if there is a blog involved. There are simply too many advantages to enabling a web site with fresh, themed content that is well structured for SEO benefits and that also offers a great platform for creative promotion, not to consider it in the online marketing mix. However, the mis-perceptions about what a blog is and is not abound, even with self-described “blogging experts”.
Despite that, I think it’s a perfectly reasonable question for a company to ask: “Why should we have a blog and what will it do for us?” Answering that question in the most effective way possible starts with understanding the business and marketing goals of the company. Too many SEOs and blogging consultants focus on the mechanical capabilities of a blog and not on the business goals that can be met.
Blogs are simply tools and are only as effective as the programs and people put in place to use them. The degree to which company goals can be met with the applications and current/future benefits of a blog are what we use to determine whether a business blog is appropriate or not.
Effective marketing initiatives have goals and measures of success. Blogs as marketing and PR tools are no different. Some of the measurable effects from business blogging include:
- Media attention
- Speaking requests
- Customer loyalty
- Inbound links to the blog
- Search engine ranking for the corporate site
- Corporate website traffic
- Leads/sales initiated
- Volume of blog traffic
- Technorati and other credible rankings
- Search engine ranking for the blog
- Increased company visibility within the industry
- Increased media coverage
- Improved customer loyalty
- Increased sales leads/revenue/new customers
If the majority of these measures (although each is not equally valuable) can support a company’s online marketing and/or PR objectives, then it makes sense to continue down the blogging path. Other considerations include:
- Hosting platform and limitations
- URL considerations – sub directory, sub domain, different domain
- Client side IT support/requirements/limitations
- Client side blog editorial and strategic ownership
- Client side content sources
- Meshing the blog content schedule with the company/web site marketing plan and communications/messaging objectives
- Client side resource allocation for research, writing, media creation and editorial
- Coordinated promotion of key blog posts
- Coordination of blog posts with offline, search marketing or media relations outreach initiatives
- Blog software, template customization and optimization
- Blog productivity plug-ins and anti SPAM tools
- Third party widgets and tools
- Training on blogging best practices
- Keyword glossaries
- Blogger relations and community outreach
- Developing a social network, profile development and channels of distribution/promotion
- Ongoing blog promotion – RSS, SEO, blog PR, social media
- Blog analytics and monitoring
- Blogging policy, legal considerations and copyright issues
- Trackback and comment policy
- Comment handling
- Quantifying the expense for outside consultants and internal resources for blogging and making estimates for a return on investment
This is a long list and many blogging consultants will tell you how easy it is to throw up a blog and they’re right. It IS easy to go to blogger.com or wordpress.com and create a blog within minutes. So why all the “considerations” you ask?
Things that are easy to get into are typically easy to get out of. The vast majority of blogs started are abandoned. TopRank’s point of view is that it doesn’t make sense to start a blog unless we do so in strategic support of a company’s business goals. With the potential for significant impact on business, marketing and PR goals, it makes sense to do all that you can to ensure success – making sure all bases are covered.Â Blogging is new territory for most companies and being able to do so with a deeply experienced marketing partner can save a lot of headache, money, resources, time and embarrassment from failure.
Make no mistake, I am personally very biased towards the business building and marketing benefits of business blogs. Using a blog to promote our TopRank brand over the past 3, going on 4 years, has had considerable results that we’re very happy with. When an agency that offers business blog consulting services can successfully implement for themselves the services and consulting offered to clients, it says a lot about the agency’s capabilities.
As it goes with successful visibility on search engines for SEO related terms, the same goes for successful blog marketing programs with the adage, “If you can do it for yourself, you can do it for others”. What I would add to that is that it must be for the right reasons, expectations and measures of success or don’t bother.