If you have a small business, you must have a blog. Full stop.
But what does my ice cream store have to do with blogging? you’re wondering to yourself. It’s a fair question—but we’re here to tell you that it has everything to do with blogging.
In 2008, Marcus Sheridan’s pool company struggled to stay afloat amidst economic downturn. Customers didn’t see a reason to invest in a backyard swimming pool, and his company, River Pools and Spas, nearly collapsed.
That all changed, though, when Sheridan discovered content marketing. By creating a blog and posting content that answered every possible customer question, Sheridan found that customers were drawn toward his business. Soon, Sheridan’s company grew from a small business run out of a pickup truck to the largest pool installation company in the United States—all because of content marketing.
Sheridan’s business went from near-collapse to widespread success because he gave consumers value. By providing his audience with helpful and informative digital content, he was able to draw in customers, gain their trust and loyalty, and establish himself as an authority in his industry.
While Sheridan’s strategy involved various types of content marketing—from video to email to blogging—his blog was one of the cornerstones of his success.
And, whether you own an ice cream shop or online retail store, the same applies to you!
Continue on to learn why a blog is essential for your small business, and for some helpful tips on how to start a blog.
There are two types of business blogs: Standalone and company blogs. When you start a blog of the standalone kind, the blog itself is the business.
However, company blogs are created purely to propel a business forward. These are the ones that we’re referring to, and they can help you do all of the following:
Within your industry, you’re facing tons of competition, from large companies and small businesses alike.
Creating the best blog in your industry—one that answers audience questions and that gives readers more free, well-presented, and engaging information than any other company—is a great way to stand out and establish your credibility and authority.
As you develop your blog, readers will come to rely on your company as the best source of knowledge around—encouraging them to come back to your website time and time again.
Because the internet is so saturated with content, it can be very difficult for your audience to find you—at times, even if they search directly for your company name.
And, one of the main ways your audience finds your company in the first place is through search engine rankings. Search engines like Google use a special algorithm that takes into account a variety of factors—such as the amount of helpful information and content your website offers—to rank your content first, second, third, or four-hundredth in search engine results. Studies have shown that over 90% of web users don’t go beyond the first page of Google search results, meaning it’s critical that your website gets into the top five or ten.
Search engines like new, fresh, relevant content. If they deem your content to be the best on the web, yours will make it into the first few results on Google when people search for topics related to your niche. When Google robots “crawl” (read) your site, they’re going to note if your content deals with a central theme, including keywords and phrases that are relevant to the service you provide.
In other words, the better your blog is, the higher your rankings in search engines. And the higher your search engine rankings, the more likely it is that audience will find your business and convert into customers.
A big part of quality SEO (search engine optimization) is developing your blog content. For top-notch SEO, write well-researched articles on searchable questions (like “Why do I need a blog?”), incorporate links to relevant content, and embed key search terms throughout your article.
Another benefit of blogging is brand recognition.
As your website pops up in search results, and as more and more people use your blog as a useful source of information about your industry, an increasing number of consumers will come to recognize your brand.
Even if consumers don’t need your product or service right then and there, they’ll keep it in the back of their minds for later, or recommend it to their friends as one of the best companies in the industry.
Blogging also helps spread brand recognition by being a highly shareable form of content. The better your content is, the more readers will share it on social media and circulate your brand’s name!
Marcus Sheridan’s success with content marketing revealed a critical feature of blogging. When you have a great blog, customers will come to you organically.
This strategy, called inbound marketing, is based on the notion that traditional forms of marketing—chasing your customers with cold calls, print advertisements, and aggressive sales pitches—are outdated and increasingly ineffective.
Inbound marketing tactics like content creation and blogging, on the other hand, are customer-focused strategies that naturally attract customers who want to be there.
When your blog offers customers help, insight, information, or advice, readers will find themselves organically drawn in. After all, the reason these readers are searching the internet in the first place is because they’re hoping to find the answers to their questions.
If your blog consistently proves itself as the resource that best answers these questions, that gets big points for your brand—and brings the customers in.
Blogging doesn’t only help you attract new customers—it’s also a great way to retain existing customers.
It’s been found that nurturing existing customers is less expensive and has higher rates of success than acquiring new customers. In other words, getting a prior customer to buy again and again is easier than closing a purchase with a new customer.
On top of that, loyal customers are your strongest advocate, since they’ll recommend your products and services to their friends.
Customer retention efforts start with your blog. By writing with a brand voice, tone, and language that appeals to your audience, you get customers to love your company.
Engage customers not only with information, but also with stories about your company that give your brand a personality. The goal is to use your blog to make customers feel like they have a personal relationship with your company—one that they wouldn’t forsake for competing companies’ products.
Now that we’ve convinced you to launch a blog for your business, you’re probably wondering how to begin. Here are some quick tips to guide you as you start your blog:
Usually a blog the same name as your company, but you may also want to be more creative. To choose the right name for your blog, keep it short, easy for audiences to remember, and not overly complex. Make sure the name isn’t generic, but also don’t make it so specific that it’ll restrict your content.
Of course, the more content, the better. But if you simply aren’t able to write a new blog post every day, at least aim to post consistently. That way, you won’t lose sight of your blogging goals, and your audience will come to rely on you for new posts every X amount of time.
Get into the habit of writing regularly—say, twice a week—so that you can steadily build up your website content.
Blogging is a core component of cultivating your brand image. Find the tone and language that appeal to your target audience, and then stick to that.
Blog content isn’t just about sharing information; it’s also about developing your brand’s personality and voice, and about using that personality to build lasting relationships with customers.
Don’t write fluff—you can do better than that. Dig deep into your topics, offering insights and information about your industry that no other company can. Prioritize the quality of your content over the quantity of your posts.
Blog posts don’t just come in a single form. There are loads of different types of content, ranging from how-to’s to personal company stories to case studies.
You can even spice up your posts by incorporating videos or infographics. A varied blog offers a wider array of information, attracts a range of customer types, and is more engaging for your readers.
Create a blog for your small business to establish yourself as an industry authority, rank high in search results, and build brand recognition for your company. Remember that a blog is crucial for generating leads, attracting new customers to your company while building lasting relationships with existing customers.
Ready to get started? Check out this list of small business tools; you’ll find everything you need to start a top-notch, successful blog!