“Content marketing” (which is really just distributing marketing content) is the hot buzzword for modern marketers. But there’s already a lot of content out there, and content marketing isn’t nearly as good as “interesting marketing.” Without interesting content, all these media channels are toothless. And (you know this already) interesting content is one of the top reasons people follow brands on social media and elsewhere.
What’s the best vehicle for being interesting? Here’s a hint. There are already 240 million of them with 329 million readers. Blogs. There are 500,000 new blog entries posted every day. Millions of companies are finding out why blogging matters now more than ever.
The Plight of the Modern Marketer
Just over the past year, the marketing landscape has changed dramatically. As Google changes their algorithm, then Facebook, and eventually Twitter, it’s making it hard for even the experts to keep up. For a time, social media was the golden goose. And a Facebook page was the golden egg. Collect “likes” (formerly “fans”, see how fast things change?) and your social media strategy was done.
This doesn’t work anymore. The golden goose is dead, or at least ailing in parts. A recent article in the International Business Times focused on the disastrous results of Facebook’s new algorithms that govern what users see in their news feeds. Over the past two years, Facebook’s organic reach has declined from 16 to two percent.
Facebook and the Decline of Its Organic Reach
Social Media Examiner reported more than 70 percent of companies across 104 industries have seen an organic reach on Facebook decline of more than 30 percent in the past year. How can this be? In short, it’s a surfeit of success. Facebook news feeds are clogged with a lot of information. Facebook’s algorithm updates seek to unclog overcrowded news feeds by showing only content relevant to the user and filtering out anything deemed overly promotional (unless the promoter wants to pay to promote it).
Even if users want to see everything from a certain page, there is no way for them to opt in. Companies using social media to build their brand, reach out to the community, or share important news are lumped into the “promotional” category and as such, they miss a huge portion of their audience. Seth Ginsberg, president of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, called Facebook’s “pay for play” model “the ultimate bait and switch.” His organization paid $30,000 in Facebook advertising fees to build up its page. Now, that investment is useless because they would have to pay more to boost exposure for each post.
Ads Help, But Not Enough
If the big gun of social media reach is waning, what’s next? Should we revert back to banner ads? Research shows Internet users are 280 times more likely to climb Mount Everest than to click on a banner ad. Clickthrough rates are 0.1 percent. Even more discouraging, up to 50 percent of clickthroughs are accidental (fake “Close Window” boxes, anyone?). If those statistics aren’t bad enough, print advertising is even worse. Not only are print ads expensive to produce and place, but the format doesn’t offer engagement. These have their place as one tactic for building a legitimate brand, but online is where most of the action should be for most companies.
The reality is: 70 percent of people say they learn about a company through a blog as opposed to an ad.
Any Good News? (Answer: Yes. Your Blog.)
Okay, enough of the bad news. What’s the good news? Blogging is the light at the end of the algorithmically rigged tunnel. It’s the last platform that allows you to create content and attract readers without the intrusion of third-party algorithms or apps. Blogging drives every other form of online marketing. Sound a bit grandiose? Here’s what we mean.
Social media. A successful social media campaign is fueled by content. Remember that interesting content is a top reason people follow companies on social media. Yes, you can recycle content from other places. But, does that really position your company as an industry leader, a trusted resource? Keeping a lively blog, with content you create, makes you a thought leader.
E-newsletters. Some view e-newsletters as the dinosaur of content marketing. The truth is, one can still be an effective form of communication when integrated with your blog. Surveys show 41 percent of people want to be notified via email when a new blog post is up. Promote your content in the newsletter by giving a clear call to action that takes readers directly to your blog. Read how Coca-Cola effectively integrated their newsletter, social media, and blog and adapt their strategy in your marketing plan. Use your blog to address frequently asked customer questions, offer tips and tricks, or reference interesting case studies. Get more of your readers to your blog through an effective email strategy.
Images boost blog readership
MDG Advertising did a study that showed that on average, 94% more total views are attracted by content containing compelling images than content without images. Don’t forget to add alt text to your images. Search engines like that, and it’s another good place to use a keyword.
Use your video to promote your blog, and vice versa
According to the Content Marketing Institute, video was one of the most popular content marketing tactics in 2014. Eighty-five percent of the U.S. Internet audience watches videos online and averages 186 videos a month. However, video is useless without distribution and awareness. Use your blog to promote how-to videos, quick tips, customer testimonials, or demonstrations. Use social media to promote your video that links back to your blog. There’s one bigger perk to video: blog posts that incorporate video attract three times more inbound links than plain text, one of the key components to increasing SEO.
Research shows the primary reason marketing automation fails is lack of content. Successful content marketing results in five times more leads. But trying to execute an effective strategy without quality content can be likened to driving a car with no wheels. It can’t be done. Your blog provides the perfect set of wheels to get your marketing automation strategy going.
Need More Convincing?
Still not convinced blogging is worth the effort? Consider this. Companies that generate 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month. And, company blogs increase visitors to their website by 55 percent. Improving SEO is probably the most common reason companies start a blog. Research shows blogging increases inbound links by 97 percent, the most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Note well that Google gives higher priority to sites that create high quality content that’s relevant to their audience. A blog is the perfect vehicle for sharing the best you have to offer, making your company more interesting and sustaining a presence online.
But SEO is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are five more reasons to start blogging today.
Be a thought leader. Show your customers you care about your industry, their needs and the quality of the products and services that meet those needs. Share your expertise. Position yourself as a trusted resource. Blogs create the perfect environment for this interactive relationship. Encourage comments. Start a conversation on social media using hashtags, reply to feedback, and answer questions. Think of it as your own public relations forum. An additional benefit is, it may generate actual PR. Business bloggers often receive requests for interviews or quotes from journalists who consider them industry experts.
Gain insight into your audience. Blog analytics help you gauge what your audience is interested in. Track posts by site visits, shares, time on each page, comments, popular subjects, and clickthroughs. Use Google Analytics or a variety of other tools to glean important data about your website, social media channels, and blogs.
Increase your conversion rate. Turning leads into customers is the goal of every company. Did you know 61 percent of U.S. consumers say they’ve made a purchase based solely on a blog? Thirty-one percent say a company’s blog is the second most influential factor in making a purchase.
Sharpen your skills. Staying ahead of the competition is key to customer loyalty. Blogging forces you to stay ahead of the curve in your industry, constantly thinking of trends and news that will appeal to your audience. And the simple act of writing about your industry will make you think about your industry and business at a deeper, more complex level.
Make a wise investment. Blogs are cost-effective marketing strategies. Did you know the ROI of content marketing is three times higher than the ROI on paid search? That’s more bang for your buck, simply for writing about what you know best (and what your customers want to know about): your industry. Each blog is your very own long-term asset to be used over and over on social media, in eBooks, email newsletters, or any other form of content marketing that comes along. A blog post that’s well received, for example, might serve as the basis for a webinar. Consider your blog the foundation for building brand awareness, while promoting your products and improving your online reputation. You’ve invested in your website; don’t let it become simply an idle asset. Set yourself apart from the competition and become a relevant player in your industry by investing in blog content, and turning your static website into something dynamic and lead-generating.
The benefits of blogging for your business are undeniable. B2B companies with a blog report generating 67 percent more leads per month. In both the B2C and B2B arenas, blogging has earned its place in marketing strategy. Start using this most effective medium to attract new customers, build relationships with existing ones – and grow your brand’s credibility. To learn more about how to effectively attract new customers, take a look at our eBook, Attraction 101: Content Marketing, and learn the three essential ways to use content marketing for generating interested prospects.
Patrick Armitage is the Director of Marketing atBlogMutt, a blog writing service helping agencies and businesses develop original content for their customers.
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