Let’s start with the basics – what is a blog? It’s short for ‘weblog’ and is in effect like an always-online newsletter, but different in that it encourages 2-way communication. It is a great opportunity to offer real-time information and give your audience the opportunity not only to add their own opinions but to see those of others. Some people might see it as the online version of ‘Talkback radio’ and we know how successful that has been!
Real Business Benefits
A Blog can have some real business benefits (see below for some examples), but in order to realize those results, you have to, at the very minimum, cover off the 5 points below effectively:
- Define your Audience
- Only once you know who your audience is can you go about meeting their needs. What is likely to be helpful or interesting to them? What will encourage them to engage, participate, refer others, come back again and again?
- Valuable Content
- The content will only be valuable if it is interesting or useful to your target audience. Make sure you write content to their level. Will they understand your technical jargon? If not, don’t use it.
- Keep in mind Search Engine Content Indexing
- Write content for your audience, but keep in mind relevant search keywords as they need to be able to find your content. Is your audience from the same country or from around the world? Do you need to use different terminology? For example, if you are writing about RVs, remember the Australians call them camper vans, or maybe you need to spell out the whole word, Recreational Vehicles, to avoid confusion. If your audience is based in Australia instead of Oklahoma City, they would no doubt use these search terms rather than the search terms we might use. If you have a website, placing the blog within it will help the site rank better as the Blog content adds to the content of the web providing the search engines with more text to index.
- Ensure that the Blog is easy to read
- Make sure that the colors are easy on the eye (black text on a white background always works well), the font is not too small and navigation between topics is easy to understand.
- Browser compatibility
- Ensure that your Blog displays as it should on all the main browsers. Nothing will deter your audience from engaging in your Blog more than a Blog that is obviously not displaying properly on their browser. If your website is dated, this can be a real problem. But with most contemporary website Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress, you should have no trouble. Check with your web designer if you are worried.
You Need a Blog
Some of the more obvious business benefits from running a Blog include:
- Relationship building – between the company and your customers
- Viral marketing – Blogs are ideal tools to promote word of mouth marketing
- Market research – finding out what your customers really think and using them for their suggestions for improvements
- As a technical support aid – perhaps replacing a traditional Frequently Asked Questions page
- Brand building – putting your name and expertise out there