You may have heard of some of the statistics regarding the positive influence of having a business blog, for example, companies that blog have 97% more inbound links and that 92% of companies that blog several times a day have acquired customers through their blog (Hubspot). In case that frightens you, let me assure you that you don’t need to blog numerous times a day for a blog to benefit your business. Blogging will help your business grow and here are seven ways it can do so – if you do it well.
#1. Your Blog = Your Friendly Doorman
What is the first thing you meet when you walk into Harrods store in Knightsbridge? Their friendly doormen who may double as security guards but to the ordinary shopper and tourist, they are there to greet us, to direct us to the right floor, to answer our questions, to be helpful and they always seem to have a smile.
Your blog is the friendly doorman (or woman) to your blog. Blog posts can deal with topics which answer customer questions, they can direct readers to the correct product page on a website, they show the personality behind the business and they are helpful. If you are a one person business and you have your photo in the sidebar (like I do), readers can see what you look like too and that will help them to decide whether to do business with you or not.
Imagine I am trying to decide on what brand of vacuum cleaner to buy. I can ask friends, I can look at reviews on electrical shop websites or I can google it. Imagine I find a helpful blog post which compares three of the leading brands of hoovers – detailing the pros and cons of each one. Each one has a link to where I can purchase it, thereby making it easy for me to click that link and purchase. If the reviews seem honest and balanced with good images, I am likely to be influenced and to purchase. That blog post will have acted as a friendly doorman for that customer and a proportion of readers will purchase. All you have to do is keep a record of the common questions asked by customers and answer them in blog posts.
2. Your Blog = Your Window display
All brick and mortar stores will invest time and money in altering their window displays on a regular basis, on updating their in-shop displays, ensuring they look attractive, are well-lit, invite interaction and ultimately that they lead to purchases.
Your blog should operate as your window display. If you are selling products, you can feature them within blog posts using good photography and advising readers how they can use those products to advantage. For example, an interiors store could feature a new wallpaper and demonstrate why it is perfect for making a room appear larger or the ceiling higher. By listing the benefits of the wallpaper design, that should boost sales.
If you provide a service, you can explain the benefits of your business to the customer. For example, if your business provides a tax back service, you can outline typical examples whereby employed people received xxx amount back in a typical tax back situation, thereby encouraged more readers to find their paperwork and submit it to you.
#3. Your Blog = Your News Portal
If you are thinking of setting up a facebook page, twitter account, Pinterest account and /or google + page, you will be using them to interact with potential customers and to drive them to your website. However, people don’t to see links to ‘About Us’ pages or product pages, they want news that is of value to them – be it entertaining, beautiful or informative. Your blog is the hub of your social media activity and your other social media channels will drive traffic to it – once it has good content. Once visitors are reading your blog, they are on your website and all you have to do is convert them into sales. Your blog has achieved the task by getting them there.
#4. Your Blog = More Website Traffic
How do people find your business if they don’t know its name? If you have a blog that is well written with good and relevant content, they will find it via the first page of google when they type in keywords or a question. Once they have arrived at your blog, they may well proceed to purchase or contact you, depending on the urgency and the quality of your call to action. More and more shoppers are using Pinterest to find products and services and Pinterest users are 10% more likely to follow through with a purchase than visitors from other channels (Fourth Source) . Thereby, your blog works by providing news for Pinterest.
#5 Your Blog = A Sales Team
If you go on any sales course, the trainer will tell you the importance of emphasising the benefits of your product or service. Too many businesses fall into the trap of just mentioning the features. Apparently the 80:20 rule applies here – 80% Benefits and 20% Features. This is where your blog can really improve your sales. A product page for a vacuum cleaner will list its size, colour, power, brand, bagless or not, length of cable and its capacity. That’s fine if I just wish to compare capacity size or price. However, I would be more convinced by a review of three different vacuum cleaners – how they compared when vacuuming up pet hair, Christmas tree needles or everyday crumbs from toddlers. If I am a dog owner and a parent, I’m much more likely to purchase.
By showing yourself to be knowledgeable, brimming over with expertise, this will also lend weight to persuading people to trusting you and doing business with you.
Remember your blog post will stay there and will rank in google searches. It isn’t like google adwords which cease when you decide to stop spending. You may find that a couple of blog posts are much more popular than the rest – you can always update those blog posts with new product information, using them to continually drive sales.
#6. Your Blog = Your Press Releases
Journalists are always looking for stories. Perhaps an interiors journalist is looking for a crafter with amazing photographs and a good story, a parenting journalist may be looking for tips on dealing with the terrible twos, a business journalist might be looking for a quote from a self-employed mum or the local paper is looking for a recent success story. Yes, you can send press releases to various publication but the timing may not be right. Journalists will search for stories online and if you are blogging, they will find you and can decide whether to contact you or not. Good photos and quality content will stand you in good stead.
#7 Your Blog = Your Communication Tool
How do you find out if your customers like your products? How do you find out if they would prefer X than Y? How can you get to know their names and what makes them tick? How can you find out what they want to know?
Yes, they might ask you in person or they may email you but without a blog, it is harder to reach potential customers. By using the commenting facility on your blog, communication becomes two-way and you can converse and answer questions.