Five Reasons Every Company Needs a Blog

blog 101 iconNow that most businesses have blogs, everyone is focused on increasing the value of their posts. Here are five reasons why every company needs to have an exceptional blog. These topics apply to business-to-business and business-to-consumer entities.

1. The Competition

Positive differentiators are like bread and butter in commerce. Companies are always looking for ways to gain an edge over the competition. Your blog can do this for you. Don’t give your competitors a chance to become the definitive industry blog. If stay competitive, you’ve got to be blogging too.

2. The Credibility

Credibility is a huge factor. By establishing credibility on your blog, you can foster trust. This is the key to generating sales and attracting new customers. People buy things from companies or other people that they trust. Many thought leaders are born on blogs. Use your blog like a soapbox to reach consumers and to get your ideas and thoughts heard by the world.

3. Search Engines

The things businesses do to please search engines are incredible. Most of us spend a lot of time and money on SEO campaigns and creating keyword-rich content. Well, blogs are a pretty awesome way to attract real consumers AND search engines at the same time. Search engines love fresh web content, and your blog is a great way to get their attention by adding new information even if your home page is fairly static.

4. The Customers

Fifty-seven percent of business owners who were surveyed by HubSpot said that they have acquired at least one customer from their blog. Customers are the primary target when you blog. Your readers are your customers. By providing tips, tutorials and valuable information, you’ll attract new customers and generate new leads. A ceramic tile company, for example, might post a great project tutorial or buying guide that helps consumers make the right purchase.

5. The Cost

Although businesses are spending more on blogs, they are still the most cost effective marketing channel. Your blog is one of your most powerful inbound marketing tools. Due to the low cost, blogs are very valuable for small businesses. Not just valuable but accessible. The best marketing strategies are accessible for companies creating them and consumers viewing them. Remember: The more you blog, the more customers you’ll bring in. While daily bloggers have the highest success rate, most people can’t blog that much. Weekly and monthly schedules are the most common, and that’s a great pace to star with.

The opportunity to blog is something that you must take advantage of. You can release news, promote special offers and educate your customers, so they can make informed purchases. These blog posts can also be cross promoted through social media sites and your own readers. If you think about the potential, a company blog really is exciting. How is your blog performing?

What is Inbound Marketing?

This is an excellent question. If you don’t know what inbound marketing is, there’s no need to worry. This term has only been around since 2005. Inbound marketing is an abstract concept that has several philosophic definitions. The principles of inbound marketing are associated with all types of web content. Inbound marketing is not an entirely new concept, but it has acquired an official name and a new meaning in the 21st century. To understand inbound marketing, we must also understand the principles behind outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is a subtle, passive sales strategy that involves valuable web content and features that increase website visibility.

Outbound marketing uses aggressive go-get-it tactics, such as direct mail, cold calls and in-your-face advertisements. From a personal perspective, I believe that we all prefer inbound marketing. Let’s not fool ourselves. Nobody likes junk mail or telemarketers. From a business standpoint, outbound marketing is expensive, and the results may not be worth the effort or the cost.

In the past, inbound marketing has been an ever-present strategy, but it was done in a different way. If a business was marketing their products or services 20 years ago, there were several logical places for them to advertise. If a construction company was working in your neighborhood, there were several ways you could find out more about them without the Internet!

  1. Signs on the property or on the lawn
  2. Signs on their trucks
  3. Sweatshirt logos
  4. Larger signs on a building or on a billboard (whether these advertisements are inbound or outbound is debatable)
  5. Phone book entries
  6. Word-of-mouth recommendations

Today, this same construction company would use a wider variety of inbound marketing techniques.

  1. Local business entries, such as Google
  2. Informational blog posts
  3. YouTube videos
  4. Social media buzz
  5. Geo-targeted web content
  6. Promotional offers (coupons, press releases etc.)

The benefits of inbound marketing are clear. The upfront cost is lower, and the marketing materials are more appealing to the customer. I compare inbound marketing to a spider web. The spider builds the web and adds a few new strings once in a while. Then, the spider kicks back and waits.

Outbound marketing is like a pack of wolves or a lone predator that uses a resource-intensive approach to capture those much-needed customers.

In some ways, inbound marketing is non-traditional, but many established businesses still rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and traditional inbound leads. Business owners often prefer inbound leads because customers pre-qualify themselves.

The following paragraph will give you a bit more insight into how the concept of inbound marketing came to be.

The term inbound marketing was coined by a guy called Brian Halligan, who is the founder and CEO of a marketing site and software company called HubSpot. Halligan and a dude called Seth Godin are luminaries in this rapidly evolving field. Godin is responsible for creating a little publishing site called Squidoo. He has also penned several best-selling books that were marketed using his concepts. Anyway, he wrote a book called “Permission Marketing.” Permission marketing is very similar to inbound marketing because it requires potential customers to express interest before they become a lead.

It’s important to note that businesses will still have to nurture those inbound leads. Designating yourself or someone in your organization to follow up on leads and to track referrals is essential. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for marketers.

If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that the Internet is a place to be seen. Increasing the visibility of your business information and web properties through passive inbound marketing is a surefire and cost-effective way to market your products or services.

Up next, we’ll be talking about the strategies behind creating successful inbound web content.

If you have any thoughts or questions about inbound marketing, share your comments here.

What Can a Blog Do For You?

Ask not what you can do for your blog; ask what your blog can do for you.

Okay, I’m pretty sure that’s not what JFK meant at his legendary inaugural address, but I am sure that a blog is part of a mutually beneficial relationship.

Blog authors only get out what they put in, which means that the better the content of your blog, the better your results will be. While quality content requires a significant investment in time or money spent to pay a professional writer, the rewards are overwhelming. When compared to traditional advertising channels, blogs are one of the best and most cost-effective marketing options.

HubSpot is a massive proponent of inbound marketing, and the company’s 2012 report on the state of inbound marketing reveals several surprising statistics. Before I mention these numbers, it’s important to realize why inbound marketing is so effective.

The main principle at work here is that it’s far easier to bring Muhammad to the mountain instead of trying to schlep that same mountain across Arabia. If you can get visitors to come to you (your blog), your chances for success are much better, and there is much less work involved. Here are a few important statistics about the marketing value of blogs.

Companies that have blogs generate 55 percent more traffic and 70 percent more leads.

Once visitors arrive on your blog, they are ready to stay as long as they find valuable information.

Inbound leads cost 61 percent less than outbound leads.

If blogging isn’t on your list of great ways to get affordable leads, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy.

More than half of all companies with blogs have gained at least one customer through this channel. To top that, 92 percent of companies that blog several times per day have acquired at least one new customer from their posts.

If you’ve been blogging once a week or once every other week, it’s time to set a new goal!

According to the Demand Gen Report, following up on web leads creates 20 percent more sales.

Rule number one: Act quickly. One in every five leads can become a new customer. Don’t alienate potential clients. Make one person responsible for following up on inquiries, converting leads and tracking referral data.

The web is a marketing and research platform. Even customers who receive a word-of-mouth referral will use your online presence to make an educated decision.

Remember: What you aren’t doing is very important. Oh, and one more thing. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is. A blog will make your marketing strategy better.