The history of blogging dates back to the mid 90s when Swarthmore College undergrad, Justin Hall started an online “open diary.” The New York Times crowned him “The founding father of personal bloggers.”
Still, for smaller companies with small marketing budgets, and no writer on staff, blogging is a tough sell.Small companies spend their marketing dollars carefully, and look for efforts with an immediate and quantifiable ROI. In other words, you don’t want to spend money unless you can make more money. Understandable. The sales funnel has changed dramatically since the early days of the Internet. Today, consumers are much more savvy. They gather 90% of their research – much of it by reading blog posts – before ever reaching out to a sales person. Six in 10 consumers purchase a product after having read a blog post about it. Still, SMBs routinely ask us the same questions when it comes to blogs. We thought it might help to share them here in case you’re wondering the same thing.
Blogging FAQ #1: We’re already adding dozens of website pages filled with SEO copy. Why do we need blog posts?
The answer lies in understanding the sales funnel. The copy on your website is Top of Funnel content, meant to generate leads. But blog posts move anonymous leads from Top of Funnel to Middle of Funnel by building trust, turning them into known prospects
According to the 2016 Demand Gen Report, 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.
Blogging FAQ #2: Why not just create middle of funnel content on our web pages?
At the top of the funnel, prospects are only beginning their search and are looking for high-level information about your products/services. Skipping that step could turn those prospects away from your website. You can’t build a relationship with a stranger without first introducing yourself – consumers expect the same.
Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts. (source)
Blogging FAQ #3: What about SEO?
Over time, and with the right keywords, publishing new blog posts on a regular basis can help drive up your search engine ranking. Not only that, but adding in and outbound links will increase that ranking. It’s important to publish original content on your blog – regurgitating the same information that’s already on your website can actually hurt your SEO ranking. Keeping your blog posts current is another way to keep SEO top of mind. Add backlinks to new blog posts, and update your older blog posts (and website pages) with links to more recently published posts.
Websites with a blog have up to 434% more indexed pages (source).
Blogging FAQ #4: How will a blog bring my company more business?
Publishing blog posts about topics that are relevant to your audience, that answer questions for them, and provide information they need and want works to build trust among your audience, Your target audience will begin to see you as an expert in your industry. When their friends/family ask for recommendations, you’ll be top of mind. And when those consumers are in need of your product/service, you’ll be the first company they think to call.
61% of online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog. (Source:BlogHer)
Blogging FAQ #5: How long will it take to get leads?
Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. Think of it as a long-term relationship vs. a one-night stand. What is it worth to your brand to be seen as a trusted source of information for your audience? Rather than just a one-time sale, blogging creates a relationship with your fans and followers and cements your status as an expert. And when it is time to purchase, consumers want to do business with companies they know and trust.
According to HubSpot’s 2016 State of Inbound Report, B2B marketers who use blogs get 67% more leads than those who do not.
Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog. (Source: ThinkCreative)
Blogging FAQ #6: How can we measure the ROI of a blog?
Measuring the true ROI of your blogging efforts starts with knowing your objectives. Once you know what it is you want to accomplish, you can begin to measure:
- Overall web traffic
- Search engine traffic
- Referral traffic
- Social media traffic
- Newsletter sign-ups
With the latest tools ( we use Sprout Social) you can even measure sentiment. Being aware of how your audience feels about your brand can help you fine tune your messaging, your brand voice, and the way you engage with your audience.
Interested in learning more? Check out the Microsoft in Business blog: 3 Reasons Blogging May Be Good for Your Small Business.