I'm a huge blog fan — even more so since I learned that 90 percent of our site's organic clicks were on our blog!
But of course, you'll want other numbers to support your blogging goals. Do a Google search on "small business blogging statistics" and you'll find encouraging data to support a blog program. Perhaps one of the most compelling I've seen recently is a HubSpot piece claiming that blogging businesses see 55% more website visitors and earn 67% more leads. Equally as compelling: Six out of ten consumers say that blog posts are a valuable part of their early-stage buying journeys.
Those are compelling numbers. But before you start banging your head against the desk because you don't think you've been blogging enough, or the right way, or at all, take a beat and ask yourself some important questions.
What are you seeking from regular blogging?
Blogging to keep up with the competition or because you think it's a must is a recipe for failure. Consider these mission-specific examples of blogging goals:
Generating new-business leads.
Showcasing the expertise of management and subject-matter experts on your team.
Building site traffic.
Increasing brand awareness.
As you might expect, someone in sales may make the case for lead generation, while your marketing guru will lobby for brand awareness. Get together to discuss the possibilities and everyone's priorities. Early buy-in is essential from as many stakeholders as possible.
Is SEO success essential to your business goals?
Yes, SEO can be challenging, as its standards are constantly changing. What may be great SEO content this month may fall behind when rated against new criteria. So before you invest in SEO services, make certain you can see a return on that investment.
If you're looking to build community among your existing customers, for example, you'll want to dedicate the bulk of your time and money to creating content for them, not in honing your SEO strategy. If you've done your homework for determining your target audience(s), this will be an easy decision.
We've leveraged our blog strategy through our email and social media campaigns. This strategy is a precision instrument we use in conjunction with other media tools. All in all, we're seeking broader content appeal, beyond being SEO-centric.
What other results can you use to gauge success?
Establish qualitative and/or quantitative standards for gauging your success. Are your salespeople sharing your blog content when working on closing a sale? That's a qualitative success. Is your site traffic up, with new visitors moving from the blog to product or service pages? Those are important KPIs to track.
What's the competition up to?
Again, this is not to keep up with them, but to learn from what they are or aren't doing. For example, say you're running a garden center. Your competition may be blogging ad nauseum about planting roses and tulips when you know that there's a movement towards natural meadows instead of show plants. So while you may not be privy to their results, you can, like any good publication does, find opportunities for you to shine.
Do you know your target audience?
When you nail this down, you're leveraging your resources to your greatest advantage. If you're courting customers to build retention, you're not necessarily going to be as concerned with SEO as those generating leads may be.
At Fora Financial, we serve a broad array of industries seeking quick capital — from construction and manufacturing firms to medical and accounting practices. Sometimes we'll choose to offer content for one of these segments, instead of the broader base. Clearly, these won't be SEO-driven posts.
How much content can you generate?
Do you feel you have enough content to offer weekly, biweekly, or more? How will you develop and generate your posts?
Web developers have made posting as easy as creating a new Word doc. But that's the technical part. Creating content takes, writing, editing, and programming SEO at a level sophisticated enough to satisfy SEO demands and, most important, your customers' information needs.
Content alignment among departments is essential for protecting your investment. I read recently about the case of a firm that invested thousands in blog and thought leadership content, only to find that it didn't align with the sales force's objectives.
In many cases, a firm is better off hiring an outside writer or marketing firm to ensure consistent content production and quality.
How does compliance factor into your content?
If you're in an industry with exceptional compliance requirements, like finance or healthcare, do you have the necessary resources to vet content?
Start by developing a basic playbook — the words you can and cannot use to describe your products or services, for example. It doesn't have to be formal — just be sure to make content parameters clear and easy to understand. Consider having your content creator(s) sit down with a lawyer or other compliance expert to get a first-hand understanding of important regulations — and the consequences for not following them.
What will your blog look like?
One common shortcoming of a blog is that its corner of the website doesn't look much different from the sales pages, case studies, and management bios. That's a big mistake. Don't be afraid. Let your blog stand out with a distinctive look and voice. Though that may scare a salesperson, it means that your readers will be more inclined to buy into your information, as if it's from a news source in your industry.
Don't worry, no one expects you to know how to design a publication — ask your web designer for suggestions on typestyles, layouts, and artwork that can boost your blog's influence.
Developing a blog that supports your most critical business goals doesn't have to be painful — just make sure you apply care and thought to it before you start dedicating resources to the effort.
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Since 2008, Fora Financial has distributed $3 billion to 35,000 businesses. Click here or call (877) 419-3568 for more information on how Fora Financial's working capital solutions can help your business thrive.