Blogging: The Best Free Marketing Tool
Updated: Jan 27
Do you have a blog? If so, great (and I’d love to hear about it). And if not, I’m here to persuade you of the mighty power of blogging.
No doubt about it: A professional, attractive, useful blog can produce a bounty of benefits for your business or nonprofit organization. When a high quality blog is associated with your name and/or brand, you’re ahead of the pack. Here are just six of the benefits:
1. Boosting your all-important SEO, or search engine optimization. (More on this later.)
2. Establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.
3. Attracting new visitors to your site.
4. Sharing the more personal side — the human voice— of you and your business.
5. Communicating with other businesses with whom you may want to partner.
6. Becoming a possible source for media interviews, thus garnering publicity for your brand.
Simply put, a blog — short for “web log” — is a regularly updated website or web page, usually run by an individual or small group. It is written in an informal or conversational style. Writing a blog is an invitation to great storytelling, and storytelling is the genie in the marketing bottle.
A blog post is the ideal format for sharing stories of customer interactions, victories achieved, and obstacles overcome (in other words, the drama of real life, meaningful personal interactions, and small business). For example, maybe you're the insurance agent that saved the day when a new homeowner's basement flooded on the eve of a major holiday. Or perhaps you're the baker extraordinaire that whipped up a wedding cake that absolutely delighted the bride and groom. These blog-worthy interactions brim with human interest.
Blogs began gaining ground as a marketing tool 20 years ago. Today, in 2020, according to the website Demand Metric, 90 percent of all organizations rely on content — such as blog posts and email newsletters — to boost their marketing mojo. According to the same source, 90 percent of businesse-to-business customers put their faith in content marketing, as do 87 percent of companies that woo customers directly
Numbers tell the story. According to forbes.com, “Leads are the undeniable lifeblood of your business. And content marketing is often at the heart of lead generation, as one of the top most effective lead generation methods; in fact, 93% of B2B companies say that content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing tactics.” But like every other business decision, the choice to launch a blog should be strategic. What are your goals? How will a blog advance your business? Are you interested in building community that will develop your customer base over time, or is your objective strictly sales-oriented?
You should know upfront: blogging is a commitment that must be built into your “to do” list like everything else, which certainly doesn’t mean, however, that you must write your own blog posts. Many businesses collaborate with freelance writers (aka content marketers) to produce fresh, frequently updated, and compelling content. It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) that your posts must be presented with the utmost professionalism. Quality matters. Research shows it takes about three hours to research and write the kind of high quality blog post that yields the results that will make your audience sit up and take notice.
Expert sources recommend today’s posts be on the longer side – about 1,500 words. (Wait, did I just see your jaw drop or roll your eyes?) The reason? Google, what else? Google ranks longer posts higher than short ones because lengthier, more in-depth copy validates the blogger’s expertise.
Blogging tip sheet
1. Ensure your blog is mobile-friendly and loads quickly. According to Google, approximately 60 percent of all Google searches in 2019 began on a mobile device. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, your good efforts will be wasted.
2. Prioritize SEO. Search Engine Optimization rules the day — every day. SEO is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring the site appears high on the list of results returned by search engines. The key to getting more traffic lies in integrating content with search engine optimization and social media marketing.
3. Always include visual content and publish relevant data when possible.
4. A search engine’s idea of a good time is providing fresh, meaningful content to searchers. There’s no better way to “feed the beast” than by offering up frequent content via blog posts. By blogging consistently, you give Google and other search engines new content to index and you create opportunities to plug in the all-important keywords that increase your visibility on search engines. For my business, betsystormwriter.com, key words are “public relations small business,” “healthcare writer” and “Chicago content marketing,” among others.
5. Cite your references in a blog post— always. Accuracy and accountability are essential, and you are responsible for providing credit where credit is due. Use hyperlinks (a link from a hypertext file or document to another location or file, typically activated by clicking on a highlighted word or image on the screen) in your posts to link back to original sources and to provide a way for readers to obtain additional information. Among other benefits, accuracy builds trust and credibility with your customer base.
Get a jumpstart with these resources:
1. “Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Joe Pulizzi, author of seven books on content marketing.
2. “Blogging for Business: Everything You Need to Know and Why You Should Care” by
Shel Holtz, author and speaker on the application of online technology to strategic organizational communication.
3. “12 Tips for Making your Business Blog a Success,” an article from the Balance Small Business website. This story contains many great nuggets — including, especially, information about the need to post blogs consistently/on schedule.
I’ll end with a bit of full disclosure. Initially, I didn’t take to blogging as a marketing tool. My (short-sighted) reasoning was, “I write for a living. Why would I want to do it for free?” But I’m a full-fledged convert now. Blogging not only offers me the opportunity to distinguish myself from other content marketers, it keeps me on high alert for the kind of news and developments that lend themselves to appealing blog posts that benefit my clients. I highly recommend it.