Creating a blog to accompany your business’s webpage and/or social media accounts is an excellent way to develop loyal customers and establish a larger online presence. Effective blogging is unfortunately not as easy as dumping content online whenever you feel like it, but there are a few simple guidelines that can get you started in the right direction.
I’m going to start with the two most important steps. First and foremost, you need to have a goal or, at the very least, expectations. Why are you blogging? To direct traffic to your website? To develop a more loyal customer base? To make money? These three might seem like different ways of saying exactly the same thing, but they aren’t. While all three ideas help to promote and grow your business, they are different examples of blogging motivations.
Directing lots of traffic to your blog means that you want a large volume of people to see your site. These people don’t necessarily interact with or even closely read your posts, but they drive up your search engine listings because so many of them are viewing your page. Developing a loyal customer base probably, though not always, means that a smaller group of people are invested in your company’s blog. They read it frequently and probably comment or re-post on other social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Having loyal online customers is a great form of word-of-mouth advertising. Smitten Kitchen is a great example of this. What started as one woman experimenting with recipes now gets tons of traffic and comments. The author has been able to get a publishing contract and write a book. Notice that her site has a clean, elegant design and has few adds that are kept out of the way of the main content.
Why you blog directly relates to how you blog and without a clear strategy, you won’t be very effective unless you’re a large business that already has an established online presence. Why and how you blog are also be directly related to your customers. Who are they? What do they want? Are you writing to middle-aged, American business men living abroad or to little old ladies who have just learned to use the internet? Age, gender, location, economic status, interests, values and even politics are important things to consider. It’s not to say that you wouldn’t or shouldn’t have a wide cross over, but give some thought to the types of customers you want, as well as the type you already have.
I can tell you two things customers definitely don’t want. They don’t want to read the same content that is already provided on your company webpage. If you are a new and used tire retailer from Boston, that should be clear when someone enters your webpage. You don’t need to rehash who you are or what products or services you provide in every post.
Another thing no one wants, ever, is to feel like they are in the middle of a sales pitch. Stop selling. Don’t constantly post ads, specials or lists of things people should buy. There should be a section for this elsewhere on your website.
Your blog exists mainly to establish your identity and give customers something to connect with. They should be getting something from your blog for free, without the expectation that they will have to pay for it in some way. Whether this is a coupon, information, advice or entertainment, it should be something that keeps customers coming back for more.