“A blog is a means of sharing thoughts and ideas on your online community. Your blog can be a personal diary, a project collaboration tool, a guide, or any means of communicating and publishing information on the web. Its uses are as limitless as your imagination.”
Common uses include teaching and educational and corporate use...
1) It helps drive traffic to your website.
Raise your hand if you want more website visitors. Yeah!, me too.
Now think about the ways people find your website:
They could type your name right in to their browser, but that's an audience you already have. They know who you are, you're on their radar, and that doesn't help you get more traffic on top of what you're already getting.
You could pay for traffic by buying an email list (don't you dare!), blasting them, and hoping some people open and click through on the emails. But that's expensive and, you know, illegal.
You could pay for traffic by placing tons of paid ads, which isn't illegal, but still quite expensive. And the second you run out of money, your traffic stops coming, too.
So, how can you drive any traffic? In short: blogging, social media, and search engines. Here's how it works.
Think about how many pages there are on your website. Probably not a ton, right? And think about how often you update those pages. Probably not that often, right? (How often can you really update your About Us page, you know?)
Well, blogging helps solve both of those problems.
Every time you write a blog post, it's one more indexed page on your website, which means it's one more opportunity for you to show up in search engines and drive traffic to your website in organic search. We'll get into more of the benefits of blogging on your SEO a bit later, but it's also one more cue to Google and other search engines that your website is active and they should be checking in frequently to see what new content to surface.
Blogging also helps you get discovered via social media. Every time you write a blog post, you're creating content that people can share on social networks -- Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, GooglePlus Pinterest -- which helps expose your business to a new audience that may not know you yet.
Blog content also helps keep your social media presence going -- instead of asking your social media manager to come up with brand new original content for social media (or creating that content yourself), your blog can serve as that repository of content. You're strengthening your social reach with blog content and driving new website visitors to your blog via your social channels. Quite a symbiotic relationship, if I do say so myself.
So, the first benefit of blogging? It helps drive new traffic to your website and works closely with search engines and social media to do that.
2) It helps convert that traffic into leads.
Now that you have traffic coming to your website through your blog, you have an opportunity to convert that traffic into leads.
Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads.The way this works is really simple: Just add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post.
Often, these calls-to-action lead to things like free ebooks, free whitepapers, free fact sheets, free webinars, free trials and other rewards... basically, any content asset for which someone would be willing to exchange their information. To be super clear for anyone unfamiliar with how traffic-to-lead conversions work, it's as simple as this:
Visitor comes to website
Visitor sees call-to-action for a free offer
Visitor clicks call-to-action and gets to a landing page, which contains a form for them to fill in with their information
Visitor fills out form, submits information, and receives the free offer
If you scroll down in this blog post, you'll see a call-to-action button. In fact, 99.9% of the blog posts we publish have call-to-action buttons ... and yours should, too. That is how you turn that traffic coming to your blog into leads for your sales team.
3) It helps establish authority.
The best business blogs answer common questions their leads and customers have. If you're consistently creating content that's helpful for your target customer, it'll help establish you as an authority in their eyes. This is a particularly handy tool for Sales and Service professionals.
Can you imagine the impact of sending an educational blog post you wrote to clear things up for a confused customer? Or how many more deals a salesperson could close if their leads discovered blog content written by their salesperson?
"Establishing authority" is a fluffy metric -- certainly not as concrete as traffic and leads, but it's pretty powerful stuff. And if you need to tie the impact of blogging to a less fluffy metric, consider measuring it the same way you measure sales enablement. Because at the end of the day, that's what many of your blog posts are. Think about the sales and conversion enablement opportunities blogging presents:
If prospects find answers to their common questions via blog posts written by people at your company, they're much more likely to come into the conversion/sales process trusting what you have to say because you've helped them in the past -- even before they were interested in purchasing anything from you or joining your community.
Prospects that have been reading your blog posts will typically enter the conversion/sales process more educated on your place in the market, your community, and what you have to offer. That makes for a far more productive sales conversation than one held between two relative strangers.
Salespeople who encounter specific questions that require in-depth explanation or a documented answer can pull from an archive of blog posts. Not only do these blog posts help move the sales process along more swiftly than if a sales rep had to create the assets from scratch, but the salesperson is further positioned as a helpful resource to their prospect.
4) It drives long-term results.
You know what would be cool? If any of the following things helped you drive site traffic and generate new leads:
Trip to Hawaii
Going to the gym
Good news, though! That's what blogging does -- largely through search engines. Here's what I mean:
Let's say you sit down for an hour and write and publish a blog post today. Let's say that blog post gets you 100 views and 10 leads. You get another 50 views and 5 leads tomorrow as a few more people find it on social media and some of your subscribers get caught up on their email and RSS. But after a couple days, most of the fanfare from that post dies down and you've netted 150 views and 15 leads.
It's not done.
That blog post is now ranking in search engines. That means for days, weeks, months, and years to come, you can continue to get traffic and leads from that blog post. So while it may feel like day one or bust, in reality, blogging acts more like this:
So while you're hitting your snooze alarm, surfing in Hawaii, and pumping iron, you're also driving traffic and leads. The effort you put in yesterday can turn into hundreds of thousands of views and leads in the future.
In fact, about 70% of the traffic each month on this very blog comes from posts that weren't published in the current month. They come from old posts. Same goes for the leads generated in a current month -- about 90% of the leads we generate every month come from blog posts that were published in previous months. Sometimes years ago.
We call these types of blog posts "compounding" posts. Not every blog post will fit into this category, but the more evergreen blog posts you write, the more likely it is that you'll land on one of those compounding blog posts.