If you had any doubts whether you should be blogging as a business, this post should clear it up once and for all.
Some businesses of course are a blog. Or they start life as a blog. Over time, they figure out how to start earning revenue. The numbers start to build, the revenue climbs with it, it becomes a business in and of itself.
But that’s not what I’m referring to here.
I’m talking about taking an existing business, and adding blogging to it as a new and lucrative marketing channel. Of course, you may already have a blog for your business. Perhaps you add the odd post occasionally.
But are you actually blogging as a business, with regular content and a proper strategy designed to attract your marketplace, build your traffic, generate new and highly targeted leads for your business, and feed into multiple other marketing activities that can explode your online presence?
If you’re not yet, here are 6 big benefits that may just persuade you otherwise.
…blogging is hands down one of the most traffic-boosting, lead-generating, bottom-line-focused content delivery platforms.
Aaron Orendorff, ContentMarketingInstitute.com
(See these related resources:
- 10 examples of real-life businesses where a blog was central to their marketing, and which grew to six figures and beyond, some within just a year or two – click here.
- Discover how to do something similar yourself by monetizing your blog properly – click here.
- If you don’t yet have a blog, FirstSiteGuide has a ton of resources to help.)
Organic Traffic Increase
Here’s some stats from this site:
In March and April, I published just one post a month, and some similarly sporadic posting before then over the course of several months. As a relatively new site, this was mainly to warm the site up in the search engines and give it some history while vWriter was still being developed.
Since May, I’ve been doing a couple of things differently:
- Blogging more consistently (mostly on a weekly basis), with a focus on longer-style posts combined with keyword research.
- Using the content to feed into other marketing activities via the vWriter platform.
By October – so within 6 months – organic traffic alone (i.e. people finding content on the site via the search engines) climbed to not far off 6x the level it was in April.
To be more exact, October had 5.35 times the level of organic traffic in April. In percentage terms, the increase is 435%.
It’s also showing indications of continuing to climb at an astonishing rate.
For example, to take the first few days of the month at the time of writing, the first Monday to Thursday period in November is nearly 50% up on the first Monday to Thursday period in October.
In terms of where this traffic is actually arriving:
- Two-thirds of it is coming directly to content on the blog itself. This proportion is likely to increase as more such content is published.
- 25% of it is for one specific blog post, attracting nearly 4x the level of traffic of its nearest rival post.
Regarding the latter point above, you’ll find that some blog posts will naturally far outperform others. In line with the Pareto principle, you’ll generally find that 80% of the traffic your blog attracts will come from 20% of your posts.
It takes consistent blogging to keep producing these winners that repay dividends over time. For me, this particular winning post was the 40th one I’d published (from that, you can deduce which one it was, if you have the time and inclination).
By using the graph to forecast traffic levels going forward, it’s highly likely organic traffic levels will exceed 1000 visitors a month by the end of the year. After another 6 months, it’s likely to be at least 2000 visitors a month and continue to climb.
Could it climb even higher? Who knows.
(Update: see how my search traffic grew 1,465% in 12 months).
The average monthly organic traffic growth over the past 6 months has been over 35%.
The following graph shows what would happen if traffic grows at a lower monthly rate of 25%, and looks astonishing. But then, exponential traffic growth for a blog can and does happen. Ask me again in a year…
Remember, this is all highly targeted traffic and does not require ongoing investment to attract (other than to keep publishing content consistently).
This traffic benefits your business in a number of ways:
- Convert the traffic into leads for your business – see the next section for more information on lead generation.
- Attract click-throughs to your sales page(s) from people arriving at the blog who click on links in your menu bar, sidebar (eg. advertising banners) and contextual links within the content itself.
- Ability to use remarketing to a larger audience – this is covered in a separate section below.
- Increased audience on social media, with your visitors connecting with your audience via your blog. The more touch points you have with prospects, the deeper the relationship, and the more likely they are to convert to a sale.
What would you do with a 435% increase in traffic within the next 6 months?
But if you still have any doubts as to whether blogging as a business is worthwhile, read on …
As mentioned above, one key way to take advantage of the traffic your blog starts to attract is for lead generation.
You don’t have to have all this in place immediately. If you’re new to blogging for your business, simply aim to optimize and improve it as you go along.
Start by having a basic opt-in offer at the end of your posts. This will generally link to a squeeze page via an offer for a suitable lead magnet.
You can do this by adding some text to a footer widget within WordPress, as offered by many WordPress themes. There are also plugins available such as After Post Manager.
I’m now beginning to optimize this and have just started using…
Content upgrades involve offering your visitor a post-specific resource in return for their email address (or sometimes a social share).
(See related post: Build Your List With Content Upgrades: On Your Blog… And Beyond!)
This can be as simple as a PDF version of the post, or might be some other relevant download such as a special report that goes into more detail on the topic.
The key is relevancy.
Rather than a more generic offer that might appear on every post on your blog, content upgrades are specific to the post in question. As such they attract higher conversion rates so are more likely to convert your visitors onto your list (how about 300% more likely?).
As well as attracting new subscribers to your list, they also help you connect and retain those on your existing list. You’re building your relationship, and offering more value to them.
I’ve just started putting this into place here on posts like this one, concentrating mainly on posts that are attracting the most traffic. It’s early days to glean any meaningful conversion rate, but it’s already proving successful in attracting new leads.
Other Lead Generation Strategies
Other strategies I’ll be testing on the blog in the next few weeks and months include the following:
- Sidebar opt-in form
- Sidebar opt-in link – linking to a suitable squeeze page
- Using a Hello Bar
- Exit overlays
- Timed delay overlays
Regular List Communication
By publishing content regularly on your blog, you have continual material with which to communicate with your list and build that all-important relationship with your subscribers.
From a marketing perspective, the vast majority of businesses don’t email their list enough. As a result their email lists go stale, and they lose opportunities for sales, referrals and other benefits.
Return Path’s ebook, Frequency Matters: The Keys to Optimizing Email Send Frequency, lists a few other important disadvantages too such as:
- Increased likelihood the email will be classified as spam
- Higher levels of complaint
- Sender reputation issues
- Lower levels of list cleanliness
The reason for mailing less frequently than they should is often a lack of content to send that would be of value to their list.
Alternatively businesses may only ever send out promotional emails, and fail to offer their subscribers any real value. The result can be a high churn rate and emails that end up in spam or simply aren’t opened.
These problems are completely solved when you start blogging as a business.
Whenever you publish new content to your blog, simply let your email subscribers know about it and drive them back to your website. As an example, here’s an email I sent relating to this post (perhaps you’re here yourself because of it – it works!):
As you can see, I also mention previous content on the blog – it might be just what someone needs at the time, and encourages further click-through.
This keeps you in contact with them, builds trust and authority, helps them become familiar with your site, keeps you front of mind, allows you to educate them on the value of your products and services, and many other benefits.
You’ll also learn the type of content that resonates best with them – and therefore, your marketplace – and be able to optimize your efforts over time.
Grow Your Social Media Presence
Blogging means you have a ready supply of content with which to feed and grow your presence on social media.
Social media is of course increasingly essential for business, and you gain numerous benefits from maintaining an active presence, including:
- Attracting new traffic and leads
- Credibility and authority
- Joint venture and partnership opportunities
- Visibility for your business where your customers actually are
- Referral opportunities
While you can curate other people’s content as a starting point, all of these advantages are difficult to achieve unless you have content of your own to share. By blogging as a business, you can:
- Keep your social profiles updated with new content on a regular basis
- Take advantage of the ability to promote your blog’s content through social media beyond just sharing links with your own audience, such as reaching out to other social media users
For each post, don’t just create a single Tweet. Your audience is online at different times and will often be in different time zones. Create multiple Tweets that focus on different aspects of your content, and publish them over the course of several days or weeks.
Do similar for other social networks. For example, share an initial update about your blog post on Facebook, and schedule another one to go out in a month or two that focuses on a different aspect. Try sending out a third and a fourth scheduled a month or two apart.
Your blog’s content becomes even more valuable for your social media presence when you factor in content repurposing as well – see the final section below.
Blogging has another important advantage for your business.
For every visitor you attract to your blog, including your email subscribers and social media followers who click on links to view your blog content, you can advertise your business to them across a wide range of other sites using remarketing.
In other words, the more you blog — the more content you have available for them to click through to — the bigger your audience is for advertising your business to.
You’ve probably had the experience of looking at a product on Amazon, only to find Amazon advertising the same product to you as you visit other websites. That’s remarketing in action.
Remarketing is simply another form of follow-up with your interested prospects. It can often be done for low cost and, thanks to its highly targeted nature, can be very effective.
Remarketing For Lead Generation
Imagine the first-time visitor to your blog who, for whatever reason, didn’t take advantage of the multiple opportunities you provide for them to opt-in to your list.
Perhaps they got distracted, perhaps they didn’t see or take notice of the offer, perhaps it wasn’t a good time for them to take advantage.
The fact they haven’t opted in yet doesn’t mean they won’t do at some point in the future.
Here are just some of the ways you can use remarketing to keep connected with them and encourage them onto your email list:
- Use Facebook to promote new content to them. You know they’re interested in your content as they’ve already been to your site. Show new posts on your blog in their newsfeed. Encourage them back to your blog, and you’re increasing the chance they will opt-in.
- Similarly, show an opt-in offer to them on Facebook. They might take advantage of your content upgrade if presented in a different way. They might respond to a different kind of lead magnet entirely. It’s all worth testing.
- Use Adwords to present an opt-in offer to them while they browse other sites online.
Remarketing For Sales Generation
By visiting your blog, someone has effectively put up their hand and indicated they have an interest in what you do. A proportion of them, at some point, will be interested and in the market for products and services you have available.
Take advantage of this by using remarketing to advertise directly to them and drive them to your sales materials.
You can target this even further, by only remarketing to those who have already opted in to your list – your hot prospects.
Want to explode your online visibility? Want to reach new audiences for your business in new ways and across a range of different platforms?
If so, content repurposing may just hold the answer – and will become increasingly important in the years ahead.
Here are just some ways in which you can take advantage:
- Regular videos on YouTube via your own YouTube channel … (remember, YouTube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine, and 3rd most popular site).
- SlideShare presentations (can be a significant new source of traffic and leads, particularly if you’re in B2B).
- Content on LinkedIn Pulse.
- More content, and in a variety of media, to share across your social networks.
- Guest posting opportunities.
- Publishing content on content portals such as article directories and PDF sharing sites.
- Facebook Notes.
- Google+ posts.
- Answers on forums and sites like Quora (or even start a Quora blog).
- And more … (you’re only really limited by your imagination!)
(See related post, How to Create Blog Titles That Bring You Traffic – includes info on how effective blog post titles are essential when repurposing).
When you’re blogging as a business, you already have a ready supply of seed content that can be repurposed into different forms and media such as those listed above. It’s a lot quicker than creating content from scratch, and it can also be easily outsourced, allowing you to systemize the whole process within your business.
For example, each blog post can be converted into a SlideShare presentation. The SlideShare presentation can be videoed and added to YouTube. Convert the blog post into an article for LinkedIn Pulse, Facebook Notes, a Google+ post, article sites, and more. You get the idea …
In so doing you are:
- Building a wide range of links from a large number of different sites
- Putting your content – your business – in front of new audiences you wouldn’t otherwise reach
- Avoiding dependence on any one source of traffic, and thereby protecting and consolidating your business for the future
- Growing your authority and credibility
- Providing a lot of variety in the type of content you share on social media, rather than always linking back to your own blog.
For best effect, and to avoid sharing similar content to your social media networks within a short time frame, space out your content repurposing appropriately. For example:
- Your video might be published 6 months or so after the initial blog post.
- A podcast episode could be based on a blog post you created a year ago.
- The article you post on LinkedIn Pulse and Facebook Notes can be based on the blog post from 4 weeks ago.
In terms of future-proofing your business, don’t rely on your ability to always drive traffic back to your blog to read your content and gain familiarity with your business.
Prominent blogger Mitch Joel recently pronounced the end of blogging, though the real lesson is that your content needs to be where people already are, as well as on your blog. Regularly blogging as a business combined with a systematic approach to content repurposing gives you the best of both worlds.