These days, it seems like almost everyone has a blog, from major multi-national corporations to your ten-year-old nephew. Internet marketing experts tout corporate blogs as a way to build relationships with customers and create brand loyalty, but you may be wondering whether a blog can really help your company.
In these difficult financial times, when marketing budgets have been slashed and customers are less inclined to make purchases, a simple blog can be one of the most cost-effective ways to reach out to your customer base. Blogs are becoming increasingly popular among all types of internet-savvy consumers. According to a 2008 report by Forrester Research, the number of blog readers increased by 50% between 2007 and 2008. Furthermore, half of all surveyed blog readers report that they use the information in blogs when making purchasing decisions.
However, it’s critical to recognize that a blog is not the same as an e-newsletter, press release, or other, more traditional communication tools. Likewise, a blog entry should not be viewed as simply an online advertisement or marketing push. Blog readers are looking for friendly, informative posts that speak directly to their interests. They don’t mind if the information comes from a corporation, but it has to be more than a marketing tool. In most cases, using a blog for ad placement is sure to alienate and offend your readers.
Before you commit to having a corporate blog, you need to make sure that you have the time, energy, and other resources to maintain your blog over time. You’ll want to create at least one entry each week (most blogs have two or three postings each week) and be able to moderate all the comments that are posted by your readers. You can have a small group of writers share the workload, but you’ll want to make sure that they use a consistent voice, tone, and style. If your employees don’t have enough time (or the right skill set) for writing the blog entries, you may want to use a freelancer, but you have to be sure that he or she can match your corporate style without significant editing.
With hard work and dedication, most companies can create an interesting, engaging blog that brings readers back day after day. Over time, they develop a strong sense of loyalty to your company and brand, which translates into higher sales revenues and a greater market share, since existing customers become a great source of referrals. As an added bonus, the discussion around corporate blog entries is keyword-rich and can help your company’s website rise in the search engine rankings.
At Design Industries, our experience has shown us that most companies can benefit from having a corporate blog, regardless of their size or industry. However, the blog must be fully integrated with the company’s existing website, ensuring that there is a consistent look and feel for your business’s online presence. It’s also important to havea simple content-management system in the backend, so that you and your employees can create and manage blog posts and moderate comments with ease, even with little or no knowledge of web programming languages. With a little foresight and careful planning, a blog can become an inexpensive, key component of your business’s strategy for marketing and customer relations.