As part of our continuing series on content marketing tactics, I’ll be covering a topic that is absolutely near and dear to every content marketer’s heart: business blogging.
According to a recent NM Incite report, there are over 181 million blogs around the world. The way many companies treat blogs in their content marketing mix is to incorporate blogs into their website as a section or subdomain, or host them on their own domain name as we do.
With that kind of popularity, you would think everyone in business would know what a blog is and would be using them to their maximum advantage. Trust me, I’m in the content business and they don’t. In fact, brands split just 11% of their total social media budget between blogging and influencer outreach. So just to clear up any ambiguity and to follow the format for this series, here goes:
Definition of Blogging: Blogging is a form of content publishing leveraging a content management system such as Blogger, Typepad or WordPress that often publishes articles, video, images or audio in reverse chronological form.
Business or corporate blogs are social media and content marketing tools used by companies to provide valuable, interesting content for customers, employees, industry media and other target audiences. Ideally, blog content fulfills a potential or existing customer’s need for information at some point in the purchasing cycle, in order to assist them in making a buying decision.
How Are Blogs Used for Business? Content Marketing Applications:
Internationally, countless companies are using blogs to attract, engage and convert their target audience, though a select few stand out as masters in the corporate blogging trade. Whole Foods Market, for example, has an exceptional corporate blog called Whole Story, through which the grocery brand shares healthy eating tips, recipes, and more. Their focus on providing helpful, non-sales driven information to readers keeps them top of mind as a resource, rather than an advertiser, in the eyes of their fans.
comScore’s blog is an excellent example of a B2B blog that has catapulted them into a mainstream news source, helping to build brand awareness and authority. Their top quality research and information has also helped their authors, like Eli Goodman and Andrew Lipsman, build their own personal brands, as well.
Business blogs are a form of social media in their own right, though they work best as part of an online marketing strategy that uses other social channels for amplification and community building. Blog content should also be optimized for maximum visibility in search.
Business Blogging Pros & Cons:
As with any content marketing tactic, there are advantages and challenges to blogging:
- Excellent tool for brand awareness, authority building, storytelling and passive sales messaging.
- Low barrier to entry with no technical or IT skills required to contribute content.
- Ability to measure and track performance.
- Flexible platforms with multimedia capabilities to distribute information in a variety of formats.
- SEO benefits; enhanced visibility in front of people seeking a specific type of information.
- Attract new customers, engage existing ones and convert both to buy – more and more often.
- Can be time consuming to create content.
- Requires a publisher mindset from brands possibly not used to this model.
- Requires planning, organization and editorial control, particularly with multiple authors.
- Creative, unique content can be a challenge.
Expert Opinions on Business Blogging:
Blogging as part of an integrated online marketing and content marketing strategy is practiced and endorsed by top marketers from agencies and brands alike.
“A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.” ~ @LeeOdden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing (blog)
“Be helpful, give away everything you can, and make sure you put posts together that people feel they can relate to and that have something to add to.” ~ @ChrisBrogan, President, Human Business Works (blog)
“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” – @DougKessler, Velocity Partners (blog)
“Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time. Worry less about sounding professional and worry more about creating remarkable content that other humans can relate to.” ~ Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at @MarketingProfs (blog)
Related Blogging Software and Resources:
Recently, I shared 11 of my favorite blog and social content creation tools, including an editorial calendar, Twitter lists and Ubersuggest. Lee Odden has written extensively on blogging for business, including optimizing and socializing blog content, marketing your blog, integrating blogs with content marketing to inspire action and much, much more.
Download a sample editorial plan and keyword glossary to help you organize your blogging efforts and align them with your business goals. These are available free at OptimizeBook.com.
Check out the content marketing courses at MarketingProfs University to help you improve your blogging, presentation and social skills. Be sure to check out Marketing Writing Bootcamp and Content Marketing Crash Course, in particular.
Since we’ve been practicing what we preach about bloggin for over 9 years, there are numerous articles on blogging here at Online Marketing Blog. The content marketing and blogging landscape has certainly changed over the past decade, yet best practices and the importance of blogging in alignment with business goals have remained largely the same. Smart businesses are getting social and using blogs as one of the powerful weapons in their online marketing arsenal to attract, engage and convert their target audience to loyal customers.
What are some of your pressing blogging questions or best practices tips?
Image from Shutterstock.com.