Is it hard to believe blogs have been around for decades?
They began in earnest in the mid-90s and have evolved from personal diaries to one of the most effective marketing strategies available today.
Because of the way blogs were first used, and some of the less than optimal tactics used by marketers along the way, some companies have brushed blogging aside. This is a mistake. Blogs have evolved to become one of the best ways to engage with customers and build your small business online presence.
The New Frontier of Engagement
When meeting someone new for the first time everyone is on their best behavior. This is true for both social situations and in the workplace. Meeting a new customer online is no different. It is important that the customers feel delighted, which means respected, valued, and engaged with the company or individual who manages the site or blog they have chosen to visit. If one of these components is lacking, the potential customer will simply move on to another conversation.
Amazing content and content marketing are the keys to creating a site that will help customers become engaged. The primary focus for this is great content. At any social gathering there is the one person who only wants to talk about themselves. They are either constantly promoting themselves and trying to network or they are telling inane stories everyone else would rather avoid. It is important your blog not be that blog.
Creating a truly engaging blog is exactly like cultivating a thoughtful and rewarding conversational experience with someone one has only recently met. You want to talk about the things the other person is interested in. Research the target demographic and what they are searching for, then write content to fill that need. Give them a chance to ask questions and interject, on a blog this is an open and monitored comments section.
Part of ensuring you are bringing in the types of customers you want to engage with is in the selection of the content. Focused content is essential to engagement. The more tightly focused the overall content theme, the more effectively you will bring in those people who want what you are selling. It also allows you to showcase your expertise and write pieces that will have an intrinsic value on their own. Potential customers will see your blog as a resource rather than a sales pitch.
Set Up Your Blog
Before great content can be written and enjoyed, you have to set up a blog properly, one that customers can find and interact with. Every step of the blog creation process is important and requires your utmost attention. It may not be the fun part but it is the backbone of the process that will facilitate a greater opportunity for customer engagement over the long run.
First, you must choose a domain name that is easily associated with your service or product. If there is already a company website, adding a blog section is ideal. Next, choose an SEO optimized theme and plugins that work with your blogging platform. The theme needs to be multipurpose, it must look good on a variety of devices and it must help drive traffic to your site. Plugins can be used to further the goal of bringing customers to the blog, tracking how they got there, and what they did while they were visiting. Each data point you can track will allow you to better understand what your readers want and allow you to develop and revise your strategy in order to give it to them.
Once the blog is created and high quality content has begun to fill the pages, it is time to take advantage of the many social media outlets now available. Social media allows you to engage with your customers at a more advanced level. Social media icons to share content contained within each blog post will allow your customers to share the things they love and find valuable with their circle of friends and acquaintances. It’s the digital water cooler where friends and colleagues share resources, and it is essential you begin engaging in those conversations.
Social media also allows you to engage with customers on a personal level. Once they begin following you in a social media feed such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, you have their attention far more readily than when you must wait for them to feel like visiting your blog. You can post information regarding contests, promotions, or new blog posts that your customers will be immediately notified about. If you follow your subscribers in return you will have the opportunity to respond to the information they felt important enough to share and become more proactive in engaging with them.
Build Your Email List
Building an email list is somewhat like engaging with consumers in social media venues. By persuading a blog visitor to subscribe to your email list you are ensuring you will be able to reach out to them at some point in the future. This value of an email list cannot be overstated. It connects you with the people who have decided they like the ways in which you have communicated with them and they want more.
How you use your email list is as important as how you choose to create content for your blog. Yes, you could make it a never ending sales pitch but then you are the annoying person at the party again. The one everyone avoids. This is not optimal for engaging, converting, and retaining customers. While you will likely want to use the email list for promotional purposes at some point, consider making the majority of emails something of value for those who will be receiving them.
Finding new ways to advertise is a constant challenge. Blogging provides an evergreen method to engage with customers and keep them interested in your product or service. By constantly adding highly focused content it is possible to interact with your current readers and bring new prospects to your virtual door. Take the time to actively engage with your customers on a regular basis, and watch your market share grow.