Joburg is sweltering today. It's 33 degrees and we're feeling the heat, big time.
Not only is the weather making us uncomfortable, so too is the economic climate.
We need some serious relief ahead of Christmas, and while I can't do much about the weather, I can guarantee that by getting your business blog going, you will generate more business leads than you ever have before.
Blogging is big in the US and elsewhere
More and more research that comes out of the US shows that blogging is rising exponentially. In fact, companies that don't blog are now in the minority.
The local situation
Locally, I haven't been able to get my hands on any official numbers to show how many companies are blogging versus not blogging. Based on my own research and day-to-day conversations, I reckon maybe 10% of large companies have a blog. I also think that number is even lower with small to medium companies.
Considering the incredible business growth that blogging brings, especially from a lead generation perspective, these numbers are baffling.
Why are we so slow to catch on?
I don't think it's because companies don't want to blog - I just don't think they're aware of the business benefits and I also don't think they're aware of the success that companies large and small, globally, are seeing from blogging.
Why is having a business blog so powerful?
In a nutshell - a business blog will make Google love you. All companies want to increase traffic to their website, and blogging is the most effective way to achieve this. Simply put, Google loves fresh content and blogging is all about creating fresh content.
The stats say it all
I often refer to Hubspot research - simply because they are the unconvincing experts when it comes to all things inbound marketing related - especially blogging.
According to Hubspot, companies that blog get 55% website visitors. In my book, that's significant enough to take action now.
You should be using online marketing for small business growth. Why? The great thing about online marketing, especially if you're a small business, is that the marketing playing field is levelled, enabling you to compete with the big boys at a fraction of the cost.
Cost effective online marketing
You don't have to spend a lot to be an effective marketer. Especially if you use online marketing techniques that draw your customers in. Such techniques include blogging, SEO and social media.
These techniques don't need to cost much either, especially if you have the time to carry these out on a consistent basis. Or you could get a consultant or an online marketing agency to do the heavy lifting for you.
Small businesses overseas are taking notice and transforming their marketing efforts to drive more leads at a lower cost.
Online marketing in SA
As far as online marketing in SA goes though, we've still got some catching up to do. Most small business owners I speak to don't know, for example, that if they want to increase their website traffic, they need to blog.
Have no fear though, I'll be publishing many more posts on specific topics and offering many tips around online marketing for small business.
Something to think about - on the internet no one knows you're a small business! And let's face it, most of your customers are conducting research on the internet about your type of products and services before they make a decision to buy.
So there I've been talking away about the benefits of blogging for business, without first explaining the first step in how to blog.
After having three separate conversations in the last week with clients who didn't know their blog should be hosted on their actual website, I thought I should waste no time in addressing this here.
Interestingly, two of these clients are blogging already - so they apparently see the benefits - but they're not doing it in a way that is going to be of much benefit to them, sadly (although I do hope after our conversation that they do something with my suggestions).
I explained to them that because blogging is the best way to help them get their websites found online, it's really important that their blogs are on their websites.
It works like this:
The more fresh content you have on your website, the more Google will love you...and blogging is the best way to regularly produce fresh content...and thereby boosting your search rankings.
Since online marketing should begin and end with your website (with a whole lot in between of course), I hope you're starting to see why then it's futile then to have your blog hosted on another site.
There are other elements to take into acccount of course, such as optimising your blog around important keywords and creating content that is engaging to your audience, and both of these I'll cover in the near future.
First things first though, or the rest will be in vain. From my pen to your ears I hope - Please make sure your blog is on your website.
Since the internet has changed the way customers look for products and services, it's important that they find your website when they need to buy what you offer. The solution - Blog, Blog, Blog! (Used here as a verb!)
Allow me to disspel a myth. A blog is not a mini website for travel fundis to share their holiday adventures with their friends. A blog can be that, but it has many uses, and a business blog, infact, is the most critical vehicle available to help your company get found online.
With all the hype around social media, there is a lot of emphasis on developing a social media strategy, yet what most people don't know, is that if your company is not creating awesome content, through blogging for example, you're going to have very little to share on your facebook and twitter pages, which makes the whole 'social' excercise a futile one.
Why is blogging so powerful in helping your company get found online:
Because it's the most powerful SEO tool available to you:
- Improved search rankings: Search engines like Google love new, relevant content - and blogging is the best way to create new content
- Link building - this is the number of links to your site from other sites and it is also the most important metric that search engines use in determining how your company should rank for a given keyword. Blogging is the most powerful way to increase your inbound links
- SEO - if your blog is written well and properly optimised, each page provides an opportunity to get good, quality website traffic
And then of course, there are the social media benefits of blogging:
- Blogging encourages the sharing of content among your fans and followers which drives traffic back to your website
- Blogging allows you to engage in a two-way dialogue with potential customers and keep them constantly engaged with your company.
So, the above should be enough reason to get you thinking about the next steps you need to take to make blogging part of your online strategy.