A big misconception about blog marketing and blog posts is that they're one in the same. They’re both content created for a website, right? The terms are often used interchangeably but, in reality, there are big differences.
What is Blog Marketing?
Blog marketing is just what it sounds like: using blog posts that do more than just inform; they engage, entertain, and convert a targeted audience. Not long ago, brands maintained a blog separate from their website, but today they’re integrated, making it easier for companies to manage and visitors to access. WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging software, but there are plenty of other platforms to choose from.
Blog Posts vs. Blog Marketing
Every blog writer wants to create posts that readers will love. The challenge comes when those same blog posts must function as marketing pieces. It isn’t easy blogging about a product or service without it coming off as an advertisement. When that happens, you risk alienating the reader and, over time, your brand may suffer.
So how do you use a blog as a marketing tool that promotes a product or service? By providing information and updates to your customers that draw them in.
The Pros of Blog Marketing
Blogs first appeared in the 1990s and were primarily online diaries. When WordPress appeared in the early 2000s, marketers began to realize what a valuable marketing tool a blog could be. Brand awareness could be strengthened, new products and services could be launched, and content could be quickly and widely circulated through social media.
Here are some other benefits:
- Increased organic traffic. The more people who end up at your site, the greater number of leads and potential customers for your products or services. To drive sales, write articles about how to use a product or service and then link to the relevant website page to support the sales process.
- Low-cost startup. When you consider the potential return, blog marketing is relatively inexpensive. Potentially free, even self-hosted options are doable for most brands. For the cost of a domain and web hosting, a customized blog is easily within reach.
- Niche authority. The better your blog content, the more you’ll influence your audience and gain their trust. People like to know who they’re doing business with, and the more they see you as an authority, the more your bottom line grows.
- Repeat visitors. Regularly populating a blog with tips, updates, and other useful information is an effective way to encourage returning traffic; and every repeat visitor is a potential buyer.
- Improved search engine ranking. Many brands use their blogs specifically for SEO. Because of the way they’re structured, blogs are extremely search friendly. Boost your rankings by focusing each blog article on a specific keyword phrase, and be sure to link to internal and external content.
- Recommendations from influencers. Recognition and promotion by a trusted blogger can result in considerably higher sales.
How to Make a Blog a Marketing Hub
Follow these 5 steps to turn any blog into a vital part of a content marketing plan:
- Choose a platform. Whether you choose a self-hosted stand-alone blog, or incorporate one into an existing website, you need a strong foundation on which to build your blog marketing strategy.
- Know your audience. Who are you writing for? What action do you want them to take? Create multiple personas – it’s much easier to write for someone who’s “real” than it is for a faceless crowd.
- Produce effective content. All content should be enhanced to attract qualified leads. Be sure your brand is integrated into each blog article, format the piece for easy consumption, and optimize the content for search.
- Leverage social media. Promotion, promotion, promotion. Publishing content is not enough. Be sure to share each article across all social media platforms you use, and include social sharing buttons on each post.
- Track results. All marketing initiatives, including blog marketing, require measuring results. There’s no one analytic approach that will tell you you’re on the right track, so you’ll need to experiment with different methods to figure out where you need to make adjustments or outright eliminations.
The Bottom Line
The long-term rewards of blog marketing are substantial. Done right, it builds genuine trust with your readers, offering them smart and helpful content that establishes a brand as an expert resource. While results are rarely immediate, a comprehensive plan will, over time, bring a considerable increase in traffic and leads.