Is your business serious about blogging? Too many business owners still assume blogging is just a web trend that will eventually fade out. But these stats blow that assumption out of the water:
Fact: Blogging is here to stay.
Believe it or not, the first blog was created almost 25 years ago by college student Justin Hall, who turned blogging into a successful career as a journalist and entrepreneur. In 1999 there were just 23 blogs on the internet. By 2011 there were 173 million. Today, the number is impossible to estimate and considered to be hundreds of millions.
Fact: Blogs are effective.
Fully 80% of web users now identify themselves as blog readers. A landmark study by Hubspot found that when companies publish 16 or more blog posts per month, they get 3.5 times more site traffic than companies that publish 4 or fewer. Business-to-business companies see even more effectiveness, with the same triple boost in traffic for just 11 posts a month.
Fact: Starting a blog is cheap.
Launching a new blog can cost less than $100. For most companies, just a few hundred dollars a month in content creation can generate big impact from blogging. Compared to traditional advertising methods like TV commercials, billboards, and print ads, blogging is outright cheap.
The Challenge of Creating Content
However, consistently producing high-quality blog posts that drive real revenue isn’t easy. It seems like it would be – because blogging is fun, right? – but 63% of marketers say they struggle to create content that builds new traffic and leads.
Day to day, it’s difficult and time-consuming to come up with fresh blog post ideas. It begins to feel like a chore, especially in busy marketing and PR departments where time is at a premium. And even when you have plenty of ideas and time, it can be challenging to actually turn a blog post into a new contact, closed deal, or lifelong customer.
Adding to the challenge, web giants like Google make it difficult to stand out in the crowd. Google uses a top-secret algorithm, or formula, to decide which blogs get top billing – and they tinker with it a staggering 500 to 600 times a year.
Which brings up another common question: How do you even know what blogging success looks like? Does it mean being at the top of the Google rankings?
While 53% of marketers said blog content creation was their top priority last year, 55% said they were unclear on how to define success. Only 30% said their organization is effective at blogging.
The Definition of Blogging Success
Blogging success does NOT mean being at the top of the Google rankings. These days, Google tends to be dominated by giant companies with giant budgets and web traffic.
While it may be possible for a smaller business to dominate a certain niche, it’s tricky to climb the long ladder to the top of the Google results for an entire industry. Your company probably needs to definite success a very different way.
In general, most experts base blogging success on other measures, primarily: increased site traffic, increased lead conversion, and increased customer satisfaction. Let’s look at what each of these terms really means.
Success: Increased site visitors
When blog posts lead to more visits to your web page, that’s a measure of success. Luckily, it’s easy to tell when this is happening.
Before your first blog post is published, look at your total number of daily site visitors. After publishing the post, keep track of both individual post views and total daily site visitors. You should see a rise in numbers.
Success: More converted leads
Leads are opportunities for paying customers. While a site visitor is just browsing, a lead is looking to make a purchase. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that more site visitors = more leads. Some blog posts will bring in lots of visitors and very few leads. Some will bring in lots of leads, even though its overall visitor count was low.
Getting more leads alone is not the key to blogging success. Neither is getting more likes, comments, retweets, or smiling emoji – Those are all called vanity metrics, or stuff that makes you feel good, but is unlikely to equal more revenue.
Converting leads is the goal. A converted lead, in terms of blogging, is a customer who saw a blog post, found it interesting, checked out your website/services, and made a purchase.
For a publishing or software business, converted leads might also be called subscribers or users. For a hair salon, they’re walk-in customers. For a non-profit charity, they’re donors. Whatever your business labels them, they’re precious dream customers who believe in your message with their hearts and wallets.
Success: Increased customer satisfaction
Here’s one that can be measured several ways and called by many similar names: increased customer satisfaction, improved customer experience, long-term loyalty, reduced customer loss/turnover.
All of these terms refer to a better customer relationship that leads to repeat purchases and good word of mouth. It’s the best possible result of blogging: A random person becomes your company’s biggest fan and a lifetime customer.
Some companies view blogging as a contributor to LTV, or lifetime value. Starbucks is a company that’s well-known for its focus on blogging, social media posts, and other web strategies as a contributor to customer LTV.
Blogging Best Practices
So, how do you use blogging to reach all the glorious goals listed above? Here are some best practices for blogging you can put into action right away:
Be human. Blog posts should be friendly, funny, well-written, and generally free of spelling and grammar errors. People don’t like reading posts that sound like advertisements or press releases.
Be helpful. You can’t just blast out a boring message and expect people to listen. Offer something helpful, like advice, a sneak peek, a review, or behind-the-scenes footage. When in doubt, simply ask your customers what they wish you’d provide in blog posts.
Make it relevant. Rather than trying to appeal to a mass audience, make your blog posts relevant to a niche audience of your best customers. You’ll get better results from posting about “2018 Cleveland homeowner green energy tips” than “Renewable energy update.”
Include a call to action, or CTA. Use the CTA to say exactly what you want the reader to do next: download a free app, watch the next video, click to order a sample. There should be sense of urgency.
Post frequently. If you post more than 10 times a month, you’ll get three times as much traffic as a competitor who only posts a few times a month. In fact, posting only 2 or 3 times a month is essentially the same thing as posting zero times a month, based on traffic impact.
Keep it fresh. Google can tell when you’re faking it with tricks like re-posting old blog posts or stealing content from other sources, and they’ll punish you by making your posts virtually invisible.
Front-load it. Research shows 10% of people will never scroll past the first screen-page of a blog and 60% don’t read all the way through any kind of web text. So congratulations! You’re a thorough reader. That bodes well for your blogging future.