If you are late to the blogging game, no worries. It's never too late to start your own blog to pull in more customers for your small businesses.
Whether you are a dentist or a real estate agent, blogging can do you a world of good, bridging the gap between existing and potential clients.
First off, let's define what a blog is and what it is not in 2016. It's important to understand the difference. Essentially, this is a web page that is regularly updated with highly relevant content written in a conversational and informal tone.
It is not simply a place to post random articles about whatever is on your mind each month.
Today's customer is more educated than ever before. So, think of your small business blog as a combination of a journal, educational tool and advertising technique.
The trick is to make it look more like an informational piece of content than a blatant advertisement for your business. Therein lies the rub: how do you craft your blog to contain a blend of all of the above without it sounding like you are making a pitch? Let me show you how.
The best way to go about this is to hire a professional who does content marketing and social media for a living. They have the time, experience and skill set to make this happen, whereas you may be extremely busy trying to, well, run your business.
That being said, I have five simple pointers for you if you are going to tackle this solo.
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Use Your Voice
In general, you want to nix the marketing jargon and focus on speaking in your own voice. Save the pitch for the rest of your website. For your blog, get loose, get comfortable, and get real. Truth is, your customers want to hear the real deal. What is going on in the industry today and how does it affect them? How can they save money or time? These are the questions you want to be answering.
Make it easy for people to share what they find interesting. For that, be sure to embed social share triggers in key strategic locations within the blog. By keeping your blog social, you are encouraging customer service feedback and potential customers. Do not hit them with underhanded sales tactics; that will just scare them off. Get on their level and foster ongoing relationships.
Go Beyond What's Expected
Writing a blog off the cuff is no small feat. In many instances, it becomes necessary to back up what you are saying with reference links, research and articles. Linking to those resources is a critical part of helping your customers so that they can do their own research and validate what you are telling them.
It's a good idea to link to white papers, YouTube videos, research papers, and articles that further illustrate your point. After all, part of the strategy of a blog is to position yourself at the forefront of your industry as the leading expert in your field.
Your blog should become an education center of sorts where customers and potential customers can learn more information. One company that does this extremely well is Google. They provide blogging resources and customer service help about dozens of different products and thousands of different topics.
Link to your social media accounts and other resources to always keep the door open. Your blog should not end there: always keep the lines of communication and further knowledge open. Ultimately, this will reduce customer complaints and lead to more reviews online. Put the content out there, become a teacher, and watch the customers come to you.
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That leads us to the importance of updating your blog. The only thing worse than not having a blog is letting your blog become stagnant. We've all run into this at some point while browsing business websites. You click on the Blog page to see what you can learn and all you come across is a blog dated two years ago. What a let-down.
This tells the viewer that the website is neglected, and, by association, the business must be neglected too. If the company will not keep up with a simple blog, how can they meet your needs as a customer?
Many times, people move on to a competitor if a website shows signs of neglect. Fresh, engaging content is imperative, not just in blogs but in all pages of the site. Using a content management system like Wordpress is an easy way to make sure you can update your blog quickly. If you let your blog content stagnate, you are losing customers. Period.
There is not much to say here. A blog with typos and bad grammar does more damage to your reputation than if you simply had no blog at all. Hubspot has great resources on poorly written content that I believe every small business owner should be familiar with. Just like a blog that's not updated regularly, a poorly written piece of content will turn readers off. And if you know anything about today's customer, they do not like to be disappointed in your business.
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Implement a Call-to-Action
The best-crafted blog in the world won't do a bit of good if you do not incorporate a call to action at the end. Think about what you want to accomplish with that particular blog and where you want to drive traffic. Perhaps you want to encourage leads, help customers on Instagram, or gain email subscribers to a monthly newsletter you write.
For example, if you are a real estate agent and your blog is about how spring and summer are the hot times to sell your house, back it up with stats and links to helpful resources. But do not forget to call your readers to action in some way: perhaps offer $500 off closing costs if they put their house on the market by July 31 with you. Entice your customers to call you, offer them a way to save money, and you will get results.
Ultimately, your blog should be an important part of your small business strategy. Do not be afraid to research and ask questions online if you need help crafting your blog and drawing in customers. Marketing is a learning process that never stops. You should always be crafting compelling content that's engaging, relevant and refreshing.