B2B Marketing Trends

B2B Marketing Trends

B2B marketing trends for 2017 -- 5 tips for your small business from https://beckymollenkamp.com

Running a small service-based business is tough, and staying on top of the latest B2B marketing trends is nearly impossible when you have a million other tasks on your plate. Best practices seem to constantly change in the fast-paced digital age. Worse, when you attempt to research how to best market your company, you’re hit with jargon, vague concepts, and smoke and mirrors.

I’m here to cut through the doublespeak and share the five marketing trends you need to know. No sales pitch, no industry talk—just a nothing-but-the facts rundown of what’s important in B2B marketing today.

Trend #1: Use email

While social media may get all the attention, it’s actually good-old email that really matters most. It’s the most effective marketing tactic with the highest ROI. Best of all, it’s also a free tool anyone can use.

Email marketing starts by building a strong list. The goal is quality, not quantity. A list of 1 million is pretty useless if no one opens or acts on anything you send them. Far better is a list of 100 loyal followers who care deeply about what you share. (Click here to get 25 tips for growing your email list.)

You can manage email campaigns with a DIY option like MailChimp or by hiring an email marketing contractor. Make sure every newsletter, offer, survey, or other message you send is optimized for mobile because nearly 3 of 4 emails are opened on a smartphone or tablet.

To be really successful at email marketing, you can’t treat it as a one-way selling channel. You need to use email as a relationship-building tool. For every message you send that’s self-serving, make sure you are sending several more that are educational or entertaining.

Trend #2: Skip online ads

Banner ads have been declining in effectiveness for years. People have become “ad blind;” our eyes glaze over at the sight of online advertising. The growing popularity of ad-blocking software means also expensive ads often go unseen.

Advertising on social media channels (Facebook ads or sponsored tweets on Twitter) can fare better than traditional banner ads. Frequently changing algorithms and usage patterns, however, can make this a frustrating option for do-it-yourself marketers.

With so many variables at play, online advertising is likely not a great option for most small-business owners unless you’re willing to invest in professional help.

Trend #3: Find advocates

Customer loyalty programs aren’t the exclusive domain of B2Cs. Creating brand advocates is also a smart tactic for B2Bs. While this isn’t a new marketing concept, the latest trend involves utilizing new technology.

Word-of-mouth advertising and customer referrals are the most valuable sales drivers with the highest return on (minimal) investment. Now the goal is to turn customers into advocates who promote your business online.

The easiest way to earn online raves for your business is to request them. If you have a large customer base, you can automate this process with a platform like Influitive, Customer Advocacy, or Dynamic Signal. These programs help companies create online hubs where customers can complete tasks (write a testimonial, make a referral, retweet content, etc.) to earn badges or monetary rewards.

Trend #4: Create content 

Content marketing is all about sharing your knowledge with your customer base with the goal of establishing yourself as an expert. It builds trust and, eventually, generates sales. This long-term approach to marketing is becoming a must for most B2Bs who want to break through the online clutter and stand out from the competition.

There are many ways to share helpful content with your customer base, including blog posts and whitepapers. The key to content marketing is to have a strategy so you’re not just throwing out content to see what sticks.

For the best results, you should couple your content marketing with solid search-engine optimization (basically, making sure Google shows people your stuff). SEO is technical and confusing, and outsourcing the work to a pro can be a game changer.

Trend #5: Multimedia is the future

Throwing up a blog isn’t enough anymore. As millennials continue to age into decision-making roles, it’s important to market your B2B in a way that appeals to younger buyers.

Experiment with new media. Videos, podcasts, live streaming can cost very little to create and, if you get in on the action early, can set your business apart from the crowd.

Brainstorm ways you could incorporate multimedia campaigns into your marketing efforts. For example, maybe you can have a YouTube channel that includes how-to videos, customer profiles, or helpful tips. That same content can then be shared on your blog and Facebook page.

Email List Building with Twitter

Email List Building with Twitter

GUEST POST from Allie Williams

 

For months and months, I struggled to get any sign ups to my email list. I thought my content must be dry, my online presence must suck, or I’m doing everything all wrong. After all, if I was doing everything right, people would be signing up, right?

Not necessarily. Just because you’re creating great content and have a social-butterfly personality online, doesn’t mean you won’t struggle with building your email list.

Here are five strategies I use to gain email sign ups through Twitter. These techniques helped my list jump from 50 to 200+ in a matter of months.

 

1. Post Regularly

There’s nothing worse to me than visiting a page I’m really excited about and seeing they aren’t active on Twitter. You can solve this issue by snagging a Buffer account and using the free option to schedule at least one post per day. (Read: How I Skyrocketed My Twitter Stats in 24 Hours and How You Can Too)

Even if it’s been 24 hours since your last post, I’m still encouraged to see you’re an active blogger. Hence, I’m about 20x more likely to sign up for a freebie or your email list.

I personally use the 80/20 rule for content sharing. That means 80 percent of what I share is other people’s content, and 20 percent my own. Use hashtags like #blogging and #bloggersrequired to find good content to share, or visit your favorite bloggers’ and see what they’re sharing. It’s okay to retweet their retweet.

 

2. Add a Sign-Up Link

This is my Twitter bio:

Allie Williams twitter

It gets sign ups! I can’t tell you how excited I was when I started getting subscribers just from that little change. In addition, I tweet every couple hours with a shameless plug about something free I offer on my blog. I appreciate other bloggers being honest about what they offer, so I do the same.

This is kind of what my schedule looks like: Content, Content, Content, Content, Sign Up, Content, Content, Content, Content, and so on. About every five tweets or so, I share something I offer for free and how they can sign up for it.

Liking this post? Tweet about it!

 

3. Promote Content Upgrades

If you’re sharing posts, but there’s no option for your reader to become more than just a reader when they get to your site, they may never return. You’ve just lost a possible customer, client, or loyal follower.

Add content upgrades to your blog posts, then only share those posts that include content upgrades. That way, when a reader is pulled to your site via Twitter, they have options to sign up and become a subscriber—and you won’t lose them right after they finish reading.

 

4. Be Genuine

While retweeting other people’s content and sharing other bloggers’ posts can be great for your Twitter account, you also want to remain as authentic as possible. That means sharing a little of your daily life, maybe a picture of your morning coffee or a one-liner that makes your readers laugh.

Readers love to identify. It’s basically what humanity is about—relation. We relate to each other on different levels, and when we can’t relate to something or someone, we don’t like it. Be relatable by posting personal things occasionally, but not all the time. Try to be tasteful with what you share and what you don’t.

 

5. Interact with Your Favorite Bloggers

If you want eyes on you and your content, start interacting. I love seeing conversations between my favorite bloggers and other readers. Sometimes, I even chime in and create an opportunity for myself to become known to their readers.

Interacting can open up a new realm of possibilities. You can express your authority on a topic by answering questions and sharing your opinion. Interacting starts with a genuine commitment to the platform, so make sure you’re willing to put in the time.

 

If you need a good social media time management system, I have a spreadsheet here you can have. Here is a little about it:

  • Hour-by-hour, the exact formula I used to skyrocket my stats by 200 percent in 24 hours.
  • Suggestions are already filled in; just edit each box so it applies to you.
  • To copy to your drive, just click “file” and “make a copy”—it will show up in your drive as editable.
  • A convenient place for all your social media notes.
  • Enter your stats so you can successfully meet your goals each week.

A typical day on my Twitter results in about 100+ clicks. I would be doing myself an injustice if I didn’t have a way for them to sign up, so in addition to content upgrades, I have a page titled “FREE” and an exit pop-up that says “WAIT!” and offers them free things.

(Psst. Tweet about this post right here.)

 

Bonus Tip

Ensure your header image reflects whatever freebie or offer you have at that moment. When I was running the sign ups for my huge 10-day blogging challenge, I put it on every header on every social media platform.

Twitter allows for a 1500 x 500-pixel header image, which is a giant opportunity to essentially sell your reader on whatever freebie or product you have. If you aren’t utilizing this space as a pitch for your blog, start today. You can easily create a graphic for free with Canva (they even have a template for it already created) and upload it in a matter of minutes!

Make sure your branding shows through by:

  • Using the same colors you have on your blog.
  • Sticking to the same fonts you have on your blog.
  • Maintaining the same voice you use in your branding.

 

I hope these tips help you create a more effective Twitter presence and grow your email list through your social media platforms!

 


Allie WililamsAllie Williams is a Texan living in Alaska who offers free webinars and trainings on helpful topics like content upgrades, creating epic blog posts, how to make an irresistible opt-in, etc. for beginner bloggers and business babes.

 

How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

How to Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

GUEST POST from Kristi Brown, Creative Marketing Consultant with Significantly Successful

 

Guest blogging can dramatically improve your business’ visibility. It builds your authority and puts your business in front of a whole new audience. But many people wonder exactly how to go about getting guest blogging opportunities.

After about six years of working with clients from every industry imaginable, I’ve developed a five-step plan that always works to land great guest blogging opportunities and make the most of them.

1. Identify Blogs

Start by making a list of the best blogs in your niche. Do a little research on the ones that stand out. See if the voice and tone is a match to the way you communicate.

Search Google using terms like “your topic or niche + write for us” or “your topic or niche + guest post.” You’re looking for blogs that have a loyal readership and/or a decent social media following.

In general you want sites that:

  • Have an authoritative link profile
  • Are related to your site/business
  • Post high-quality content
  • Have a sizable and/or avid following (check Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook for follower numbers and engagement levels)
  • Can bring you targeted traffic (use Compete and Alexa)
  • Don’t bury a guest poster’s link in a bio far below the content

You can also look at sites like GuestCrew to get a boost if you are just starting out in the blogging space.

Once you’ve found a site for which you’d like to guest blog, get to know it and its audience. Determine what the blog and its audience want and need. This will come in handy when you reach out to the site. You can show that you know who they are, who their audience is, and what they focus on. This is vital to getting a request returned.

2. Get Noticed

How? I have you covered:

1. Engage on Twitter: One of the fastest ways to get your name etched on a blogger’s brain is to interact with them on Twitter.

For example, here’s something Andrew Youderlan of eCommerceFuel did to get published on Shopify:

guest blogging

2. Comment on the Blog: Take a few minutes to write a legitimately insightful and helpful comment or two on their site, and you’ll be their BFF.

3. Email Them: (Use cautiously) If you’re feeling bold, email the site owner a week or two before your pitch just to tell them how helpful a specific piece of content was to you.

3. Do Research

Look at the site’s other guest posts. You want to gain an understanding about the types of topics covered by guest bloggers. This will enable you to come up with both a worthy topic and a creative approach to that topic before you ask to guest post.

You need a topic that will fit their audience perfectly.

4. Send a Pitch

Start by picturing the daily life of this blogger. They have posts to write, emails to answers, perhaps a team to manage, social media to post on—the list goes on and on. When you reach out to them you want your email to be specific and to the point.

Here’s a proven-to-work email template to use:

Hi Name,

I’m a long time reader/fan/follower. You may have noticed my comment on your post on name of post (awesome article by the way).

I’m writing you because I’d love to contribute a guest post to name of blog.

I’ve been brainstorming some topics I think your readers would get a ton of value from:

  • Idea #1
  • Idea #2
  • Idea #3

I’ll make sure the piece overflows with information that can’t be found anywhere else.

To give you an idea of the quality I’ll bring to your site, here’s a link to a guest post I recently published on blog name.

Cheers,

Kristi

Here’s what makes this email template so effective:

  • It’s specific and it’s about their site.
  • It’s short, direct, and sweet (aim for 150 words or less).
  • It gives them several specific topics from which to choose.
  • It’s a soft sell with proof that you’re a good writer and have done this elsewhere.

After you have landed a few amazing guest posts, you want to keep the opportunities rolling in. Here’s how you do that:

5. Follow Up

Here are some things you can do to get the most from every guest post:

1. Actively Respond to Comments: Take the time to respond to comments on your guest post as they appear.

2. Promote Your Post Via Social Media: This is a win-win-win. The blog you guest-posted for gets traffic, you look like a published expert, and you’ve shared something of value with your tribe or audience, too.

3. Send a Thank You Note: I usually send a quick follow-up email to the blog to show appreciation for the guest posting opportunity. This also keeps you in line for the next time they need guest posts.

 

If you follow these tips, quality guest posting opportunities will start rolling in. Want more on the topic of guest blogging? Check out these amazing articles:

 


Kristi BrownKristi Brown is a creativity catalyst with expertise in business growth and creative marketing strategies. She teaches companies how to perfectly package and take their value and brilliance to their perfect customer, resulting in an increase in visibility, customers, and revenue. Her experience includes working as a Digital Marketing Director for Disney and being on the launch team for Living Social, launching 67 cities and 400 small businesses. She offers her services at SignifcantlySuccessful.com.

 

 

10 Things Every Great Website Should Have

10 Things Every Great Website Should Have

GUEST POST from Mariah Liszewski of Mariah Magazine

 

 

Your website matters. It’s the most powerful tool a business can have. Websites create trust and credibility, enhance professionalism. establish relevance, grab attention, and grow business.

If you’re like most business owners and bloggers, your website is essential to the way you do business. It may even be the only way you do business, so it’s important to make it as powerful as possible.

Here are 10 things every great website should have:

1. Updated, Modern Design

The Internet is always changing. There are constantly new website standards to meet and security measures to update. Websites, just like businesses, are forever evolving.

Your website is your biggest business asset and your best employee. It runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year—even when you’re sleeping. If your website isn’t benefiting your business, it’s not effective.

Big and hard-to-read text, distracting functionality, clashing colors, or poorly executed web elements are a thing of the past. Outdated websites lose credibility with their audience and miss out on evolving website technology that can make them more powerful platforms.

An ugly, outdated website isn’t doing anyone any good. Some people think “any web presence is better than none,” but that is a one-way ticket to losing business.

2. Important Business Information

Put your phone number, email address, physical address, business hours, etc., in a very obvious spot, whether in the header, footer, or on a contact page in the main navigation. If your website visitors want to call you, place an order, or request more information, it’s critical they can find updated contact information. Don’t make it hard for them by sending them on a wild-goose chase.

3. Mobile-Friendly Experience

Did you know that more than 60 percent of internet users access online content through mobile devices? What does that mean for you? Your website has to not only be accessible on mobile devices, but also respond to them. That means no pinching in and out to read content and information.

In April of 2015, Google updated its SEO algorithm to include mobile responsiveness. Basically, if your website isn’t mobile friendly and your competitor’s is, they’ll show up in Google search results before you do—and we all know the importance of Google search results.

Besides being a big no-no in Google’s book, not providing a mobile-friendly experience is extremely frustrating for users. If they can’t call you or easily find and read your content, they may just abandon your site altogether.

4. Quality Content

They say content is king. Ultimately, that’s true. It’s important for websites to have relevant and helpful content. If you’re writing things just for the sake of writing them, without a clear purpose, your audience will start to tune you out—and it’s hard to be tuned back in.

Besides having clear, helpful content, you should also pay attention to how your content is organized and displayed. Make good use of headings, lists, and visuals. They help break up your content so it’s easier for your visitors to digest and skim.

5. Internal Links

This one may sound a little intimidating, considering it has to do with SEO, but it’s simple and packs a lot of power. Internal linking is when you connect one page of your website to another page of your website.

Internal links helps improve user experience. It shows them there’s more relevant information about the content they’re already reading (and obviously interested in). Internal links can also keep your visitors browsing on your website longer, which keeps your bounce rate low (another plus for SEO).

Some people do this with a “Related Posts” section, or by simply linking a part of their content to another beneficial post within their website.

6. Social Media Icons

It’s 2016 and there’s no reason for websites not to have social media icons. Social media is a fantastic way for your customers to learn more about you and stay current with your business. It’s a way for them to connect with you on different platforms and for you to put some personality behind your brand.

Having social-sharing buttons is also critical if you’re posting content. If you have a portfolio or if you’re consistently updating your blog, the whole point is to get people to see that content, right? How do you get more people to see that content? By giving your readers an easy way to share the information on their social media platforms. It puts your work in front of a whole new audience.

You need to do more than just toss in buttons that link to your social media pages, however. You have to actively stay consistent and updated on those platforms as well. If a consumer looked on your Facebook page and saw your last update was three years ago, they might think that your business is either no longer relevant or that you don’t care about communicating with your audience. Either is bad, bad, bad.

7. Powerful Visuals

Visual Elements help move a user’s eye down the page, and also break up text-heavy content. Visual information, such as graphics, are processed 60,000 times quicker than written information. They could be the deciding factor on a user leaving your website or sticking around.

Within the first few seconds, do you want a visitor to be compelled and drawn in by your website or to take a quick glance and run away?

High-quality images are a must for websites. Pixelated visuals are hard on the eyes and don’t complement any design. Also, use images consistent with your brand and content. Just because a visual is processed more quickly, doesn’t mean it will make up for the confusion it causes if it’s irrelevant. Your graphics should drive home your message…not end up producing more questions.

8. Cohesive Branding

Maintaining a clear and focused brand is one of the most powerful aspects of not only your website, but your business. Staying visually consistent is one of the best ways to come across as trustworthy and professional to your audience.

Your branding should have a consistent theme that includes colors, fonts, and visual components. Utilize this theme across your website, social media accounts, and marketing assets (business cards, etc.) You want your business to be remembered and recognized when people see it, and cohesive branding can play a huge role.

9. Easy-to-Navigate Menu

Your navigation menu is how your users typically find information on your site. Make the most important pages of your website accessible  but don’t overload the menu. Too much information for the user tends to confuse them.

Some people break up their information into two separate navigation bars. This can work very well if it’s done strategically and if there are significant purposes behind each.

10. Clear Calls to Action

The whole point of your website is to get your visitors to do something. What you want them to do is totally up to you. It could be contact you, purchase a service or product, sign up for your newsletter, share posts on social media, etc.

Each website and business has different goals, but it’s important to be clear on your goals so your calls to action can be strategized to create conversions.

Website visitors don’t like to be confused when they’re on a website…it’s bad for their user experience. You never want your users to be unsure of what to do and leave your site. Your calls to action should be clear, catchy, and sprinkled throughout your website.


Mariah LiszewskiMariah Liszewski is a freelance web designer/developer who specializes in WordPress. She works one-on-one with creatives, entrepreneurs, small businesses. and bloggers to help them make their corner of the web as powerful as possible. Her background in fine arts, tied together with her obsession for coding, creates the perfect combination of visually appealing design plus functional and responsive elements. She blogs at MariahMagazine.com on topics that help bloggers and small-business owners understand the internet a little better…one post at a time.

 

Learn 3 Ways to Find Keywords

Learn 3 Ways to Find Keywords

GUEST POST from Kim Herrington, SEO and Analytics Expert

 

 

Finding new keyword ideas can be a struggle and holds back many digital entrepreneurs from really digging deep into SEO. It’s no secret that SEO can help you make huge strides in your online business, bring you new readers and clients, and help you get found online for the right things, but SEO is notorious for being unapproachable and difficult to understand.

You’ve probably been told to use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to research keywords, but you haven’t because it’s not an easy skill to master when looking for new keywords. Instead of focusing on learning new tools to start doing SEO research for your website, why not use what you already know and love?

Keyword research doesn’t have to be solely reserved for the world of Google. In today’s world where algorithms determine pretty much everything we see online, there’s a lot more to SEO that just search engines. (In fact, Pinterest is a search engine, too!)

I’m an SEO expert who teaches digital entrepreneurs how to use SEO, and these are three of my favorite strategies for finding new keywords to research using social media platforms.

1. Using Pinterest to Find SEO Keyword Ideas

As I mentioned, Pinterest is a search engine, and it’s a huge resource for keyword research. Guided search and SmartFeed were both huge changes in the way Pinterest works that some users really dislike. However, for SEO research, Smartfeed and Guided Search are both great tools for doing keyword research and getting more ideas for keywords.

To use Guided Search for keyword research, search your main keyword term on your computer. Once on the search page, click just to the left of the first Guided Search box and drag down while holding. This will select the entire list of Guided Search terms. Copy the list and paste it into a text editor. Now you’ve got a whole new list of ideas! (Tip: Mac users can paste more easily by using Shift+Command+Option+V to paste matching format.)

Another way to use Pinterest to find new keyword ideas is by looking at what ranks well in Pinterest search. Although Google is often the go-to source to find competition for keywords and new keyword ideas, Pinterest has its own algorithm with very different criteria than Google’s. You’ll often find the results are vastly different and can help you get a better understanding of what’s working and what isn’t for the competition.

Competitor research is an essential aspect of keyword selection and research. If you can’t rank for the keyword because of fierce competition, it might not be worth pursuing.

An Example of How to Use Pinterest Search for Keyword Ideas:

For our example throughout this post, we’re going to focus on an imaginary stylist who helps clients tackle personal style with capsule wardrobes.

Looking at Pinterest Guided Search, our stylist learns her audience might be looking for content focused on creating specific types of capsule wardrobes (for work by season or body type, or for different stages of life). From the top pins shown, our stylist can see people really love introductory information to building capsule wardrobes, like worksheets and tutorial content. Specific keywords include things like “capsule wardrobe work,” “how to build a capsule wardrobe,” “plus-size capsule wardrobe,” “maternity capsule wardrobe,” and others.

You’ll notice that all Guided Search keywords include the exact keyword you put into search, but the position of it with the combination of other words varies. It’s important to know which order keywords are in for keyword research.

2. Using Twitter for Keyword Ideas

Twitter has transformed from being primarily a place for discussion to become link and hashtag heavy. From an SEO perspective, this can help you find new keyword ideas by better understanding the words your audience and competition use to talk about topics in your niche. After all, keywords need to be focused on how your audience really articulates what they’re looking for, not how you think they do.

Open Twitter and type in keyword ideas you’ve come up with already, and see what results you get. I recommend looking at the “live” section in Twitter search as well as “top” so you can get an idea of how people are talking about your content idea. Unlike Pinterest’s Guided Search that might not have exact keyword phrases to use, Twitter does provide more insight into exact keywords that are worthwhile to research.

An Example of How to Use Twitter Search for Keyword Ideas:

For our stylist looking for capsule wardrobe keyword ideas, we find some exact keywords that might be worthwhile to target, such as “capsule wardrobe inspo,” “capsule wardrobe for work,” “capsule wardrobe essentials,” “curate a capsule wardrobe,” “capsule wardrobe workshop,” and others. We also notice that there are new related terms like “outfit repeater” and “style staples” we haven’t seen before. Our stylist can take these new ideas and repeat the process again to find even more keywords.

3. Using Instagram to Find Keyword Ideas

Instagram search is often the least useful when it comes to keyword research because only hashtags and profiles are searchable. The method I’ve found that works well is looking at other hashtags users combine with your focus keyword. In some industries, Instagram keyword research is more useful than others. You’ll often find that fashion-related content is overwhelmed with useless hashtags from a keyword perspective (#ootd or #dailyedit, for example).

Go to Instagram search and enter for your main keyword as a hashtag. In search results, click on the first image that appears so you can easily scroll through the posts. Write down any related hashtags that fit into your content’s niche as well as anything of note in the comments. You might discover discussions about your topic that can help you better understand your audience’s needs and desires, too.

An Example of How to Use Twitter Search for Keyword Ideas:

For our stylist, we type #capsulewardrobe into Instagram search and take a look at what comes up. Many posts are outfit posts, but there are unique and worthwhile hashtags like #capsuledaybyday and #wardrobestyling, seasonal hashtags like #springcapsulewardrobe, and genre hashtags like #minimialistwardrobe that are useful for our stylist to use and understand. There’s also strong association between how people think about organization and capsule wardrobes, so our stylist might look for other keyword ideas that link those together.

How to Use New Keyword Ideas

After studying how people talk about your content niche and ideas on social media, you’ll likely be bursting with new directions for content and keywords. Write all of these new ideas down and then turn back to SEO tools to research which will drive the most traffic. This process of looking at social media is a great way to find ideas, but researching potential traffic gains shouldn’t be left off.


Kim Herrington

Kim Herrington is an SEO and Analytics expert who teaches digital entrepreneurs how to be found online, how to create traffic-driving content, and how to make more money through digital properties. She writes about SEO and Analytics on her blog. To get started in SEO, be sure to grab Kim’s Free Yoast SEO training video and set up your website for SEO success.

 

Business Blog: Must-Have Marketing Tool

Business Blog: Must-Have Marketing Tool

The 3 most important reasons why a business blog is important for every company, large or small. From https://beckymollenkamp.com

 

Blogging is a hobby, not a marketing tactic.
Blogs are for B2Cs, not B2Bs.
Blogs are for B2Bs, not B2Cs.
E-commerce sites don’t need blogs.
Blogging is dead.

I’ve heard dozens of reasons for not having a business blog and, in almost all cases, I think they’re hooey. In the Age of the Internet, digital marketing is imperative for almost every type of business—and a blog is a key ingredient.

There are many reasons for adding a blog to your company’s website, but I’m going to highlight the three most important. If you’re not already blogging (or not doing a consistent job of it), these reasons should convince you it’s time to start.

1. Generate Traffic

Most people don’t end up on a web site by typing in a URL. They typically search a keyword or phrase and click on one or more of the returned results.

Moving your company up in the rankings can take a lot of search-engine optimization (SEO) work. A blog isn’t the only factor, but it can make a big difference. Google loves fresh content, yet many businesses offer only static websites.

Maintaining an active blog can go a long way in setting you apart from the competition.

Start by choosing keywords or phrases your clients are likely to search, and then incorporating those into quality, educational content.

Each blog post you publish becomes its own page on your website, which expands your reach and opportunity to be found. That’s because Google regularly indexes updated (not static) website pages.

Every piece of new content you pump out will increase your chances of moving up in search-results rankings.

Great content may also be shared by your readers via their own social media channels. Each of those shares can be seen by hundreds or thousands of other people, who may click and read. The exponential reach of that sharing is unlimited—and totally free to you.

 

2. Establish Authority

A blog is a direct line of communication with your potential customers. It gives your company a voice, allowing you to show off your personality and share your knowledge.

If you provide great value over and over again, readers will believe you’re a trusted and expert voice for your industry. They’ll see you as a leader, not a follower.

If your content is consistently helpful to your readers, they’re much more likely to feel confident about buying from you.

To become a go-to source for buyers in your industry, you must frequently publish blog posts that address their needs and concerns.

To generate content ideas, think about the questions customers frequently ask you or your salespeople. Your responses to each of these can become its own lengthy and helpful blog post. Also, offer your company’s take on the latest news and trends in your industry to showcase yourself as thought leaders.

Blog posts aren’t press releases. For every one post you publish about your company’s products, services, successes, etc., you should publish at least four others that in no way promote your company.

The goal of a blog is to educate customers and prospects, not hit them over the head with a sales pitch.

Unsure whether your post should make the cut? Before you publish anything, always ask yourself this one critical question.

 

3. Boost Sales

Yes, a business blog is all about education, not promotion. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not also a useful sales tool. After all, it’s driving traffic to your site and those readers are clearly interested in your area of expertise.

If you’re doing it right, a blog is a killer opportunity to generate hot leads for your business.

How do you convert readers into buyers? It starts by collecting their email addresses. With those in hand, the world is your oyster. You or your sales team can target them with enewsletters, promotional pieces, or direct inquiries about their purchasing needs.

So how do you get readers to fork over their email addresses? You can (and should) have a sign-up form on every page of your website and with every blog post, but that may not be enough. The best method is to offer a “lead magnet,” or some free bonus the reader receives after signing up via email. (See my nifty example at the bottom of this post.)

Also known as a call-to-action (CTA), a lead magnet moves a reader up in the sales funnel from anonymous stranger to warm lead.

The CTA could be an introductory consultation, a webinar, a whitepaper, a case study, an ebook, a checklist or worksheet, a free trial, or anything valuable enough to give up contact information to receive.

Don’t expect 100% conversion rates. Many readers will always remain lurkers, and that’s okay. It means they weren’t your ideal customers anyway. Those who do sign up for more information are exactly the types of people you want to target.

If your content is gaining no traction after time, however, you’ll want to reexamine what you’re sharing. It may not be attracting the right readers or delivering enough value.