So you’ve finally bitten the bullet and added a blog to your website. Good for you! It’s about time! As you probably know, a blog is an excellent way to add content to your website on a continual basis. In addition, the search engines love websites that have fresh, relevant content; this will help to improve your organic rankings, which is clearly a plus. Now you can begin to contemplate the following: What the heck do I blog about? How often should I blog? How long should my posts be?
Perhaps it might make you feel better to know that you are not alone with these quandaries. They are the most common obstacles clients are faced with when the topic of a blog comes up in conversation. This post will provide some suggestions to get you started on your blogging…
Let’s start with potential blog topics:
Anything Industry Related– This could include timely happenings in your business or niche. For example, if you were a florist, you’d want to be blogging about the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, as well as ideas on floral arrangements for that special someone.
Upcoming Events – An example would be if you are a hotel and there is a local art fair or concert taking place in your area. You could blog about these upcoming events that people might be searching for, as well as need a place to stay.
Crisis Management – In the event of a tragedy or a natural disaster, a blog is an ideal forum to communicate helpful tips and facts.
New Products or Services – This is a great way to spread the word about any new offerings you may have. An example would be if you now have ecommerce functionality, which allows website visitors to make online purchases, or perhaps you launched a new website. In either circumstance, a blog is a great way to boast about it!
Frequency of posts:
We typically recommend to our clients that they post a minimum of once a week, but more often is certainly preferable. It will depend on internal resources, as well as who will be reading your blog. An option is to have multiple members of your staff take turns posting to the blog. At the end of the day, only you can decide how often your blog will be updated, but in general, if you get into the habit of posting a minimum once a week, I’d say you are in good shape to start.
Length of blog post:
This, too, will depend on certain factors. Sometimes you will have less to say and as a result, will have a shorter blog (think 250 words). Other times you will have more to say and your post will be longer (600 words+). My advice is not to get too caught up in the length of a blog, but rather make sure that it is as relevant (to your business) as possible and the content is keyword rich.
Good luck blogging!
With Social Media being at the forefront of almost every conversation I have with clients these days, it is amazing to me how few websites have the presence of an onsite blog. To me, a blog is the first step in becoming “social”. If you do not yet have an onsite blog, I encourage you to implement one, and fast. When I pose the question to clients and prospects: Why don’t you have an onsite blog? The common responses I get are: I don’t have the time. I don’t know what to write. I am afraid people will write negative comments and the list of excuses goes on. In this post I will address each of those concerns.
Let’s start with the time factor. The good news is that a blog does not have to be a novel. That being said, there is no magic number about how long a blog post should be, though I have read a lot of interesting and funny responses over the years on this topic. One in particular that stuck in my head compared the length of a blog to a women’s skirt. “A women’s skirt should be long enough to cover the topic, but short enough to keep it interesting.” An SEO Engineer also once told me, “No good blog post is ever too long and no bad blog post is ever short enough.” A good rule of thumb is to be somewhere between 250 and 500 words. If you find that you have important things to say and your post is turning out to be longer than you originally planned, maybe consider making your blog post an article instead?
Next, let’s focus on what topics to blog about. This is actually much easier than many people realize. You should simply write about topics that are relevant to your business or industry. For example, if you are an online jeweler retailer, your posts could be topics that include: how to safely clean your precious gems, what to look for when shopping for the perfect diamond, ideas for gifts for different occasions, current trends in jewelry, tips to properly insure your jewels, etc. Seasonality also plays a factor in blog posts. Mothers Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. are all holidays to take advantage of for interesting and timely posts.
Finally, don’t be afraid of negative comments. It is next to impossible to please every single customer every single time, however, you can hear what they have to say and perhaps make things better. Maybe their gripe is warranted and if so, don’t you want to know so that you can try to resolve the particular issue? In other words, join the conversation, respond, encourage interaction and engagement. If the post is unwarranted and untrue, it is best to avoid sweeping it under the rug, and instead acknowledge the post. Then, kindly and professionally (both very important adverbs in this case) correct the post with an appropriate explanation. Often times people just want to be heard. An example: You are offering free shipping on all orders of $150. The negative post came from a disgruntled customer, complaining that you lied about free shipping, as they ordered a $100 pendant and were charged for shipping. The first step would be to acknowledge the post with something along the lines of: Thank you for your feedback. I am sorry you are upset about being charged for shipping. We currently offer free shipping on orders over $150, which is why your purchase did not qualify. We do sometimes run specials that offer free shipping on all orders. Please check back often and hopefully you can take advantage of this special promotion. If you’d like to discuss in more detail, please feel free to email me at ______@____.com. The last sentence will hopefully take the discussion offline and you can interact directly with the customer.
Blogs are an excellent way to regularly add fresh content to your website, which the search engines love when crawling. This will help boost organic rankings, as well. In addition, below is a screenshot taken from a recent eMarketer article, which estimates that “this year more than half of internet users will read blogs at least monthly. By 2014, readership will rise to more than 150 million Americans, or 60% of the internet population in the US. One reason for the rise in readership is that blogs have become an accepted part of the online media landscape.”
With the explosion of social media, it has become essential for companies to leverage the marketing strength inherent with social media participation. Even if you are hesitant to jump head first into social media marketing, there are a few aspects you can control as a business that doesn’t require heavy investment in time or resources. Customer testimonials are an excellent way to help promote your business and increase your chance for more conversions with minimal time and resource allocation.
If you already have a Facebook or Twitter account, you can use those channels to encourage your customers to talk about their positive experiences dealing with your company. One idea is to give an incentive to customers to “tell their story” and those who decide to provide a testimonial are entered into a drawing for a gift or special discount. The only caveat here is that you will have to manage the interaction and quickly respond to and diffuse any negative feedback. However, if this does happen, quickly move to resolve or respond to the negative feedback. Your quick and decisive action can go a long way in building a positive reputation as a business that cares about their customer’s concerns. Turn the negative into a positive and you gain a loyal customer who may in turn, provide a positive testimonial in the future.
Another way to leverage positive customer feedback is to create a customer testimonials section on your website. This could be placed in a prominent section on your homepage, or it can be a unique page within the site structure itself. There are many companies who use this strategy, but I am still surprised when I visit a website and can not find any content related to their customer endorsements. Another idea is to create a blog on your site and allow your customers an opportunity to post articles talking about their customer experience. Choose one blog a week as the “Customer Blog of the Week”, reward the winning “blog post” with some nice discount or special incentive and watch your blog entries grow over time; all customer generated and touting their approval of your company.
Today, more than ever, social media and social interaction are driving buying decisions. It’s no different than your classic word of mouth advertising; it’s just on a much larger (and digital) scale. You would be hard pressed to find a business owner who didn’t value the power of the referral. Your customers can be your best sales people. Use them, and reward them, for their positive testimonials to help grow your business and attract new customers.