Blogs are weblogs: a series of entries, online notes and observations on the subject the writer has a keen interest in. But of what interest is that to business? It is of every interest to those enterprises that recognise the particular strengths of this new form of communication, as I will explain.
There might be a perception that blogs are the domain of children, students and techies. Do not be taken in by this media induced viewpoint. Groups outside of the conventional business world often champion new technology. Finally business catches on to the competitive advantages of such developments. It pretends it was their own creation all along as they reap the benefits many times over – you only have to think of Bill Gates not taking the Internet seriously for a long time and his position now.
The rate of growth of blogs should give you more than a hint of its potential. Technorati, the authority on blog monitoring, estimates that 80,000 new blogs are put online daily. But this does not mean you have missed the chance to give your business a significant competitive opportunity.
Business has not woken up to the potential of the blog and I suspect this includes your main competitors. So you still have a head start to yield the benefits of a blog if you place a little energy in joining the world of business blogging.
So why is a blog such a powerful weapon in your communications strategy?
I have put together ten reasons why blogging should be more than a consideration, but an integral part of your online marketing strategy and indeed overall marketing plan:
Blogging is easy
Blogs are easy to set-up and run. The only resource you need to commit is the time to submitting your comments and interacting with bloggers in your industry.
Costs or lack of it
Blogs are also amazing cheap to set-up: quite a complex blog can be purchased for under £100, and simpler blogs are even free.
Become a voice of industry
Many readers of this article work in knowledge-based businesses. They rely on being better informed, skilled and experienced than their rivals are. Yet, they will often lose business to less qualified competitors simply because a potential client does not know that you can offer a better service based on your knowledge base.
Blogs enable your business, perhaps a member of staff, to become a voice in the industry. If you have something interesting and insightful to say you can make your blog a platform for your views. The more you blog intelligently about your industry the more of a following and a reputation for being an industry expert will follow.
Adverts, PR spin, direct mail, the national dailies – how much do you believe of what you read? Blogs are seen as being open and transparent. An alternative to forms of media that many of us have grown a little cynical of their output.
Interact with your business audience
Blogging is all about interactive communication. Visitors can leave comments on your blog; you can leave comments on their blogs, put reciprocal links to key sites and write entries on key issues raised by your clients, potential clients and your industry. No other form of marketing delivers the same level of interaction.
If something of great note happens in your industry you can react straight away. Simply enter your views on the blog and be ahead of the competition.
Clients are choosing the information they require
Many potential clients and the public in general are becoming highly selective in what information they chose to receive. The days of a few selected media outlets controlling information are gone- just look at national newspaper sales and the battle to retain readers.
Many are carefully choosing the information they want to receive. Without a blog a company is ruling out a whole strata of media. Indeed, many are switching to blogs for their information because they can select the information source and screen out the deluge of messages from elsewhere.
Visitors do not even have to visit your site to keep up with your views
Once your blog has captivated a potential or long-standing client they can receive your regular stream of views and comments by simply subscribing to an RSS feed.
The Small Business Information website concludes that search engine marketing has the lowest cost per lead and the highest return on investment. Bancorp Piper Jaffray investment bank conservatively estimates that $7 billion will be spent on search engine optimisation in 2007.
Blogs offer a highly cost effective way to achieve top rankings on search engines without great spend. The more you blog, utilise key words, link to other key blogs and use hyper links in your copy the higher up a search engine you will go.
Blog traffic can easily and quickly be measured. You also have the benefit of a comments function. So you not only know the number of visitors but also what many of them think.
With so much to be gained at so little cost businesses, and especially small business, cannot afford to see blogs as peripheral to their core marketing strategy.
Simon can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org for all matters concerning online search marketing
Managing Director – PushON Ltd
Making Sense Of Online Marketing