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8 reasons why corporate blogging is so important

For most business owners, blogging can seem like such a headache. You have to plan your content, decide on a style and tone of voice, write your posts and then ensure they are consistently posted and shared.

All of this takes time and energy, which you may think would be better spent on other things. However, blogging has been proven as an effective means of driving traffic and leads to your site, so you should recognise the potential it has to drive your business forward.

Here are 8 reasons why corporate blogging is so important:

1. It improves brand awareness

The primary reason corporate blogging is so important is that it improves brand awareness. A blog creates more opportunities for your company to be discovered by potential customers and partners. Each post has content that can be found via search engines and read and shared on social media and other sites. This should result in increased traffic, and therefore more people becoming aware of your brand and what you do – this can only be a good thing!

Rental marketplace start-up Erento use their blog to post about lessons they’ve learnt from implementing organisational changes, such as 4 Great Outcomes of Restructuring Our Sales. As a small company that’s largely unknown outside Germany, these posts help to increase awareness of their brand around the world, without directly trying the promote their services.

2. It builds relationships

Corporate blogging can help to create and nurture relationships with the people you’d like to focus on, whether that’s your target market, existing customers, suppliers, employees or other people involved in your company. You can create a two-way conversation with blog posts asking for readers’ thoughts and comments, and you could also get your readers involved by asking them to write guest posts for you. Building relationships this way will promote brand loyalty and help readers have a positive impression of your business – they’ll quickly realise that you’re a company that is happy to communicate, take on feedback and answer questions.

Coca-Cola’s Unbottled blog is always trying to get people involved through the effective use of hashtags, social media and competitions. They may be a global giant, but there’s no reason you can’t learn from their example and tweak it to suit your business.

3. It gives the company a human face

Blogging allows you to humanise your company through the tone of voice you use and the information you choose to share. You can also get employees to be responsible for particular posts and include their image and name. In the same way that blogging builds relationships, it also helps customers see you as human, and not just a faceless corporate machine. This will help them relate to you and feel more inclined to do business with you.

As an online marketing authority, it’s no surprise that Moz’s blog does this excellently. Each post includes the writer’s own thoughts, as well as their profile, where you can find information about them and other posts they’ve written. You’re also given the chance to communicate directly with them.

4. It improves transparency

Blogging is a fantastic way for businesses to build trust with their audience. You can use your corporate blog to share internal updates, such as new partners and sales figures. When the public sees a company as trustworthy, straightforward and honest, they’re more likely to use their services or buy their products.

Zappos’ CEO and COO blog offers a level of transparency above most other companies. They share internal memos, emails and other information to ensure customers feel that they can completely trust the company. This is an excellent, inexpensive way to gain trust and goodwill.

5. It nurtures credibility

Along with transparency, you can also build credibility with your corporate blog. By consistently publishing high quality content on topics related to your field, people will begin to see your company as one with authority. When they need information about the area you specialise in, they will head to your blog or contact you, knowing they can trust the content you’ve provided.

Dell use their blog to share important company news and industry updates on a regular basis, helping employees, stakeholders and clients to feel like they’re always in the loop; they can trust Dell to have their finger on the pulse of the tech industry.

6. It builds excitement and anticipation

A corporate blog is the perfect place to publish press releases and share exciting updates and titbits about new services or products. You can get your readers looking forward to things coming out in the near future, and they can share the information on social media, increasing the clamour even further. This gives you more potential for building excitement than formal press releases alone.

Recently, an Indian tech start-up, Notion Ink, blogged about the entire process leading up to their product launch. A blog allowed them to keep interested parties updated at every stage, all the way up to the launch and beyond.

7. It generates leads

Corporate blogging generates leads, which is, of course, what every small business owner is trying to do. With every piece of content you publish on your blog, you’re increasing the chance of your business being discovered. More traffic will come to your site, and some of these will turn into leads by becoming subscribers, sending you an enquiry, following you on social media or connecting with you some other way. B2C businesses which blog receive around 88% more leads per month, and B2B companies generate 67% more leads. Without a regular blogging presence, you reduce your chances of being found significantly.

One of the most well-known examples of the effectiveness of blogging for generating leads is American pool company River Pools & Spas. They were losing money until they starting blogging; within a couple of years they managed to grow from a small company serving Maryland and Virginia to the most visited pool site on the web!

8. It increases customers

Some of the leads you generate with your blog will inevitably convert into customers. Readers who have already done their research and decided to buy a product or service you offer will know about your company because of your blog and also trust you because of it. Research shows that, by the time they get in touch with you, they’ll already be over 60% of the way through the sales cycle, so essentially your blog posts have done all the hard work for you!

Personal finance management platform Mint managed to get two million customers within three years by focusing on blogging and other content. Mint is no longer a small business, it’s a global brand – isn’t that your aim, too?

Corporate blogging is an essential marketing tool

You may have noticed from these eight main points that corporate blogging can help at all stages of the buyer’s journey, including initial awareness, consideration and eventual decision. Fresh, quality and regular corporate blog posts are a powerful tool that can increase traffic to your site, brand recognition, leads and sales. Don’t ignore the power of corporate blogging any longer!

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Why is blogging so important for small businesses?

Here are the six compelling reasons why you should invest time and money in maintaining a blog for your small business.

Blogging increases traffic

Your website might not have many pages, and you probably don’t update those pages very often. This means the opportunities for your business to be found online through search engines are limited. It’s likely that most people will only find your business when they’re searching for it specifically. If you blog, you can increase your site’s presence in search results.

Each blog post is another indexed page for your site, another cue to the search engines that your site is active, and another page that web users can share on their social networks. This, along with using some relevant and well researched keywords, means that your site will be seen by more people, so traffic will inevitably increase – which leads us to our next point…

Blogging increases leads

The more visitors that come to your site, the more you will be able to convert into leads. These leads are interested in your goods or services and could turn into customers further down the line. Each blog post represents an additional chance to generate new leads. Ensure every blog post has useful, insightful information that provides value to the reader and a clear and powerful call to action (CTA).

For those unfamiliar with CTAs, they are instructions that provoke an immediate action from the reader, such as “call now” or “download the latest ebook”. To generate leads, one should be placed at the end of each post, promoting the reader to give their details (usually name and email address) in exchange for some valuable content. You will be able to nurture a good relationship with these leads by providing useful information to them and taking advantage of email marketing. Instant Print have some other excellent tips for attracting as many leads as possible.

Blogging builds authority

If you use your blog effectively, by producing regular high-quality content that is relevant to your industry, you’ll be able to increase your company’s authority. If your content resonates with your readers, industry peers and customers will begin to see you as an authority in your field. You may think such recognition isn’t possible for a small business, but it is.

For example, a small swimming pool construction business based in Virginia, USA, was struggling to increase sales and make ends meet – until the owner started blogging. Over the course of a year and a half, they blogged regularly about various subjects relating to their industry, and it became the go-to online resource for swimming pool information. The business went from being in financial trouble to being one of the top pool companies in the US.

Blogging builds relationships

Customers love to be informed and feel supported. A blog, along with a strong social media presence, enables you to offer them this. They can get to know your company and offerings in detail, making them feel more connected to your brand. Through blog comments, they can ask questions and discuss relevant topics, giving you an extra opportunity to turn visitors into leads and customers. Other site visitors will see those comments and how you respond (after all, blog comments are there to stay, unlike social media exchanges which can quickly be lost in a feed), hopefully forming a positive impression of your brand in their mind.

Research by the Content Council found that 61% of consumers feel better about (and are more likely to buy something from) a company which produces custom content.

Blogging is inexpensive

Blogging is one of the least expensive marketing tools at your disposal. All you need is a little time – it could become a new hobby, or if you lack the time or inspiration, you can find plenty of experienced and affordable blog writers online.

Compare this to the high cost of other forms of marketing, such as billboards, magazine ads, radio ads and online banner ads, and you’ll soon realise you’re onto a winner. In fact, according to research carried out by Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing – and much of those savings come from blogging.

Blogging has long term benefits

Unlike that ad you place in the local newspaper, your blog posts are there for all to see, for as long as you want them to be. You can keep them on your site forever, with no additional costs, and they’ll keep attracting interest and potential leads.

Compounding posts are what you should be aiming for; the rare but brilliant posts that contain evergreen content and as a result, gain a consistent amount of traffic over time. Hubspot estimates that around one in ten blog posts will be a compounding post.

So there you have it – all you need is a little time or money and the world is your oyster! What are you waiting for?

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Workshop Gamestorming with Sunni Brown on June 6th 2013 in Amsterdam organized by Business Models Inc. More than 40 participants are experiencing visuals thinking games for strategy and innovation. Part of the Bootcamp Business Model Canvas the Game. www.businessmodelsinc.com

Bootcamp Business Model Canvas the Game, June 5-7 2013 in Amsterdam. 6 renowned game developer teams are working on the ultimate game for the Business Model Canvas: Ranj, Weirdbeard, Little Chicken, RageSquid, FirebrushStudios, Headcandy. www.canvasthegame.com

10 easy content marketing strategies for small businesses

Content marketing can be a challenge, even for businesses with big budgets and plenty of resources. For small businesses, it can seem like an impossible task. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though, as a little planning, hard work and perseverance has the potential to deliver great results. With that in mind, try these 10 easy content marketing strategies to give your online presence a boost.

Update your blog regularly

In order for your content marketing to get maximum results, you need to create content regularly and consistently. You can start out slowly, perhaps one blog post every three days, or one tweet each day, and then gain momentum. Ideally, you should be aiming for at least 11 blog posts per month, as research by Hubspot shows that small companies posting this frequently receive almost three times more traffic than those posting around once a month, and twice as much traffic as those posting two to five times a month.

“Newsjacking” is an excellent way to help you post frequently. Keep your eye on the news (you can monitor hashtags related to your industry on Twitter) and if any stories break that are relevant to your business, write a piece about them. Don’t just directly rewrite the news story though, ensure you’re giving a new perspective on the story or providing additional information.

Answer questions

One simple way to get started with producing content is to answers questions that your customers frequently have. You could write blog posts with common questions as the title and make tutorial videos that provide the answer to questions related (whether directly or indirectly) to your product or service. People are always using Google to find answers to their questions, and you could provide them with the solution they’re looking for.

Automate

Make life easier by automating as much of your content marketing as possible. For example, you can use tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to post updates on a regular basis and at times your fans and followers are likely to see them. You could do the same with blog posts; if you’re using WordPress, it’s easy to schedule posts to go live on a certain date. To save even more time, there’s also CoSchedule, an excellent combined automation and content calendar tool.

Create a content calendar

Before producing and posting any content, you should make a content calendar. This will ensure you have a clear plan for what topics you will be covering, when, and the person responsible. Curata offers some excellent tips and a free template, and Hootsuite has a variety of useful social media calendar templates you can utilise.

 

Infographics are one of the best content marketing strategies for small businesses
Get visual with an infographic

Make it visual

Content marketing isn’t just about text; visual media, like photos, videos and infographics are highly effective. Research has shown that articles that include images get 94% more views and infographics have the power to double your traffic. It’s predicted that by 2017, video will make up almost 70% of online traffic. With stats like these, you’d be foolish not to include visuals in some form or other.

Do keyword research – and keep doing it

Before you start producing and publishing content, make sure you’ve identified the keywords you are looking to target. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to identify words that are relevant to your niche. It’s free to sign up for and simple to use, but you can use this guide if you’re stuck. You can also invest in a paid keyword tool like Moz’s Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis Tool, which offers extra features to make your research more effective.

Once you’ve identified the keywords you want to target, don’t just leave it there. Make sure you go back to your keywords every couple of months and do some more research. You might find that some keywords aren’t ranking or converting particularly well, or there are some new opportunities that you can work on.

Use data

Data-driven content will give your site more authority and increase traffic and shares, so if you have some stats that could be useful to others in your industry or customers, share them. You could make infographics (you can outsource this to a graphic designer for a reasonable fee) that present your business’s data or information in an interesting way. So if you own a bakery, for example, you could make an infographic showing the most popular cakes throughout the year or the amount of ingredients you use.

Utilise CTAs

In order to gain customers, you need to turn visitors into leads, and to do that, you need them to take action. Most of your content should contain a call to action (CTA) – a command like “contact us now” or “sign up for a free trial” that will usually lead to the exchange of information. Frequent blog posts will only be effective if visitors know how to get further information or have an incentive to stay on your site. Keep your CTAs succinct and clear, and offer something extra, for example a white paper, to encourage users to complete them.

Measure, track, tweak

There’s no point in investing in content marketing if you’re not monitoring its success. At the most basic level, you should be using Google Analytics to keep track of how all the content on your website and blog is doing. Look at metrics like number of users, bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration to see how well your site and individual pages are performing. And set up conversion goals so you can monitor your conversion rates for different actions and pages.

Don’t get overwhelmed

One final point: it’s crucial that you don’t let yourself get overwhelmed when you start working on content marketing. If you take on too much at once, you’ll quickly feel like you’re drowning in to-do lists and perhaps frustrated that you’re not seeing immediate results. It’s much better for you to take on the tasks you definitely have the time and resources to do – you can always outsource the other activities when you’re able to.

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6 awesome content writing tools you should be using

When it comes down to it, writing content can be painstaking. Even the most accomplished writers and those buzzing with fresh and exciting ideas struggle. They’ll find themselves staring at that poster on the wall, twiddling their thumbs and wondering where their next 400 words are coming from. The good news is this: there are lots of helpful and creative people out there, and they’ve come up with many handy content writing tools.

Here are 6 tools that we found particularly useful for all stages of the content writing process.

Quora

Use this tool for: Research, generating ideas and adding bulk to content

Get inspiration for content by visiting Quora, a social networking site that operates on a question and answer discussion basis. Sign up, pose your question and have it answered by experts in your industry, or identify trends from grouped topics. The likes of Stephen Fry, Rand Fishkin and Ashton Kutcher are all present and active on the site.

Quora is particularly useful for gathering quotes to add colour to your content, although of course you should always be aware of provenance. This article by SEMRush outlines the benefits of Quora for marketers.

InboundWriter

Use this tool for: Informing your content creation plan

How often have you and your team sat down to discuss content formulation, only to find yourselves doodling on scraps of paper and making outlandish suggestions that you know are never going to work?

Available as a web app or a WordPress plug-in, InboundWriter is invaluable when you’re forming your content creation plan. It provides marketers with an idea of how well content will perform prior to it even being written, using research data from across the web to analyse how that topic or area of interest is resonating with web users.

The tool can also recommend keywords for you to use; the only downside is that, unlike the other resources detailed in this article, it isn’t free.

We entered “6 awesome content writing tools you should be using” into the Emotional Marketing Headline Analyser. This received an EMV of 66.7%. According to the site, professional headlines have an EMV of between 30% and 40%, while gifted writers rank around 60 or 70%. In other words, it appears that ours is a great title!

Hemingway

Use this tool for: Cutting initial drafts and fine-tuning copy

Ernest Hemingway was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and he almost never wasted a word. His unique and tight writing style substituted lengthy, flowery prose for short, minimalist sentences. He also used plenty of repetition and relied on punctuation to convey meaning to the reader.

Nobody expects you to write like a Nobel Prize-winning novelist. Yet this handy little editing tool can give you suggestions on where to improve. Hemingway highlights sentences and words for clarity and readability and flags up use of the passive voice.

Don’t get caught up in trying to impress your readership. As content marketing whiz kid Neil Patel suggests: “you want to write as simply as possible to reach the biggest audience.” Paste your copy into the editor when finished and tweak where necessary.

Yes, we did check this paragraph in Hemingway. Here’s the original copy for an idea of how it works.

AtomicWriter

Use this tool for: Tailoring the voice of your content to your target audience

When you’re marketing a business or topic that you know like the back of your hand, it can be hard to look at it ‘from the outside’, as your readers would.

This brilliant tool, created by Toronto-based Atomic Reach and available as a WordPress plugin, is designed to help you stay on track with your blogging. It syncs with Google Analytics and your social media accounts, using this data to accurately inform how you can tailor your blog content to your target audience.

AtomicWriter is simple to use; just enter your copy into WordPress as usual and the plug-in will give you suggestions on how you can alter your post to make it clearer for the readership you had in mind. Articles are scored with a numerical Atomic Score (the higher the better) and you’ll be given an indication of Audience Match, which determines whether or not you should tweak further.

Quora - one of the best content writing tools
Quora – great for content research

Grammarly

Use this tool for: The final proofreading and editing stage

Not everyone is a naturally talented writer and most of us don’t have the time to be combing through finished drafts looking for errors. However, content rife with errors screams of a business that is unprofessional, so what do you do?

Grammarly is a plug-in that checks and corrects any spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes it finds in your text. Grammarly works with all major browsers, as well as Microsoft Office, and will appear in any text editors or dialog boxes you open, in the form of a small, green, clickable circle. You have to sign up to Grammarly, but it isn’t intrusive, and doesn’t take much effort to use. The alternative could include simple mistakes such as this, so using this tool is a no brainer.

Emotional Marketing Headline Analyser

Use this tool for: Finding effective headlines

Choosing an effective headline is notoriously difficult. It can often be tempting just to summarise the basics of the article or adopt a lazy, clichéd pun and move on to the next item on your to-do list. However, as Jodi Harris highlights for Content Marketing Institute, there are a number of aspects you need to conform to, all of which seemingly contradict each other.

Advanced Marketing Institute’s free, web-based tool is handy as it gives you an idea of the emotional response your headline will garner with your audience.

We entered “6 awesome content writing tools you should be using” which received an EMV of 66.7%. According to the site, professional headlines have an EMV of between 30% and 40%, while gifted writers rank around 60 or 70%. In other words, it appears that ours is a great title!

The analyser isn’t perfect and it doesn’t really give you an idea of the keywords you need to use, but it’s useful for helping you understand what your readership looks out for.

These six content writing tools alone won’t provide a magic solution, but have a play with them and see what you think. You might learn something new!

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