More than two decades after the inception of the “weblog,” blogging has evolved from a quirky online soapbox for early Internet users into a high-impact marketing strategy.
What’s the value of business blogging in 2021? On the crowded buffet table of marketing strategies, fast-acting, high-visibility favorites like social, paid search, and influencer campaigns get a lot of attention. And they deserve it.
But so does the humble blog.
In fact, given its investment-to-benefit ratio, the blog deserves even more love.
Because blogs, like your favorite jean jacket, pretty much have everything going for them. They’re inexpensive, timeless, and low-maintenance. They can be customized to fit your look now and updated as you evolve.
They might even compel a stranger on the El (or on your website) to strike up a conversation.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not.
Here are 10 benefits of blogging for business and why startups can't afford not to invest in this channel in 2021.
Benefit 1: Blogs Establish Your Startup as a Trustworthy Voice in Your Space
We trust people who know what they’re talking about. And we buy from people we trust.
A blog helps your startup establish credibility and awareness – two key components of trust – among your target audience.
Think for a second about your own habits as a buyer. When was the last time you googled something like “best CRM for small business” and wound up reading a blog post about it?
Did you like the content so much you signed up for the site’s newsletter? Or maybe, because you enjoyed that piece, you clicked on that company’s result when you had a question a few weeks later about a CMS.
Helpful, engaging, insightful content builds customer trust in both B2C to B2B, especially at the top of the funnel. According to a survey by B2B marketing publication Demand Gen Report, 60 percent of buyers say blog posts are most valuable in the early stages of the buying process.
Source: Demand Gen Report
But here’s where the blog differs from other channels where you communicate through words, pictures, and videos: in a blog, you can be thorough.
There’s no character limit or length cutoff. You’ve got as many words as you want to say what you’d like to say.
Blogs give you complete control over your messaging and space to go into detail on topics you know best. Your readers will walk away knowing you don’t just sell things – you know things, too.
Benefit 2: Blogs Build Thought Leadership
Speaking of knowing things, thought leadership content on your blog can impress future customers and investors alike. Almost 60 percent of business decision makers said that thought leadership has directly led to their awarding of business to an organization.
Directly – as in, cause and effect. But that’s not all:
- 55 percent of B2B buyers use thought leadership to vet and understand the caliber of a company.
- 60 percent said strong thought leadership directly led to business deals.
- 47 percent of C-Suite executives have shared their contact information after reading thought leadership.
Source: LinkedIn & Edelman
As if that’s not reason enough to lead via your thoughts, investors want to know that your company is abreast and ahead of industry trends, which you can demonstrate via thought leadership blog posts.
So what exactly does it mean to be a thought leader?
It means people are interested in what you have to say, and you’ve got an authoritative perspective on what’s happening in your industry.
While many channels can help you demonstrate thought leadership, from PR to social media, blogs are an ideal format to voice in-depth expert takes.
It’s hard to convey a nuanced view on the state of the mortgage industry, for example, in a single tweet.
That’s why Sagent, a loan servicing technology provider, uses its blog for its thought leadership pieces like “What's Really Causing July Spike In Mortgage Forbearance Extensions?”
That piece, which explains trends in mortgage forbearances and uses industry data to illustrate key predictions, is bylined by Matt Tully, head of Sagent’s compliance and agency affairs, a central thought leader for the business.
Benefit 3: Blogs Drive Organic Traffic from Search
If you want more eyes on your website, starting a blog is a great way to get them.
That’s because content is good for SEO (aka search engine optimization, the practice of optimizing your website and its content for search engine discoverability).
Even when you pay just a little attention to SEO – say, by designing blog content around relevant keywords – you’ll help your site rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). That gets your content in front of prospective customers (like you, when you Googled “best CRM for small business”).
Search is the number-one traffic source to blogs across all industries, and 60 percent of marketers say that inbound (SEO, blog content, etc.) is their highest-quality source of leads.
SEO is valuable, but not all teams have the resources and budget to execute in-depth SEO strategies.
That’s okay. Again, even checking the box on some SEO basics can yield gains in organic traffic. Take our own Propllr blog for example: regularly publishing well-researched content with an SEO-forward, rather than SEO-first, approach helped us more than triple organic traffic over two and a half years.
The Propllr blog’s organic traffic, March 2018 – October 2020
If you don’t have the resources to post new content on a regular cadence, your blog can still drive increased organic traffic. As Orbit Media demonstrates, one continually updated “juggernaut” post can draw and increase traffic to your blog.
Benefit 4: Blogs Are Low Cost, High Value Over Time
You know how the cost per wear of that jean jacket gets lower every time you put it on?
Blogs work in a similar way. You pay once, upfront, for each post, either in your team’s time or via fees to an agency. And then each post can drive traffic to your website for years.
Say, for example, you pay $1,000 for a blog post. Even if it only performs modestly, driving a single visitor to your site per day, that comes to $2.73 per visit in a year – far less than you’d pay for visits from many SEM ads.
But the benefit doesn’t stop in year one. If that same post continues driving a visitor a day for three years – again, this is not a great-performing post – you’re at less than a dollar per visit.
Let’s look at some real numbers, though.
The Propllr blog drove 16,800 visits to our site in the last year. In that time, we published 38 blog posts. Assuming an investment of $1,000 per post, that means we spent $38,000 in the last year for 16,800 visits, or about $2.26 per blog visit.
How did we do?
Let’s compare that $2.26 to the cost per click we’d have paid for traffic from the two keywords we’d most likely bid on, if we chose to drive traffic via SEM:
- PR for startups: $6.98 / click
- Chicago PR firms: $9.23 / click
That’s an average cost per click of about $8.11. If we’d driven the same amount of traffic via SEM, we would have spent more than $136,000.
In other words, our blog traffic cost only 28 percent what an SEM campaign would have.
Put differently: our blog saved us almost $100,000 in the last year.
To be fair, these calculations are meant as guideposts rather than hard-and-fast measurements – there’s plenty of nuance that we won’t get into. But the headline remains true: blogs are the most consistently cost-effective way to drive traffic to your site.
Benefit 5: Blogs Force You to Understand Your Value Props Even Better
Flannery O’Connor famously said, “I write to discover what I know.” Writing out an idea forces you to think through it all the way.
Blogging encourages you to engage meaningfully with current events, do some research, and forge a deeper understanding of your messaging and mission.
Even if you’re not writing the blogs yourself, reviewing and approving them can force you to clarify your business’s subject areas, value props, customer personas, and more.
This kind of clarity doesn’t just benefit an external audience. Nailing down your company values in a blog post can also yield excellent onboarding materials for new hires.
Benefit 6: Blogs Help Your Sales Team Close
Blogs aren’t just great for driving leads at the top of the funnel. They can also help salespeople close.
A sales-enablement approach to blogging equips your sales team with the materials they need to warm up a lead or land a deal.
Sales reps can turn to enablement content to...
- Answer buyer FAQs.
- Illustrate a product use case.
- Explain a product feature.
- Highlight a pain point that your product can solve.
- Illustrate customization options.
These handy sales-enablement assets will save your sales team time, too. By having a resource they can direct people to again and again, they can avoid writing versions of the same email or explaining the same functionality over and over on the phone.
Salespeople can use sales-enablement blogs in the buyer process to close deals faster.
“How-to” posts are helpful sales enablement content, as your prospective customers will have questions about both how to use your product or service and why it’s worth using.
Here’s a blog post that doubles as sales enablement: “How to Deploy a Custom App Configuration Using Your MDM” from Addigy, an Apple device management provider for IT teams. It explains how to do a thing that Addigy can make easier.
Benefit 7: Blogs Aid Brand Development
You can also use your blog to focus on core concepts rather than your product or industry to cultivate a specific brand image.
For example, PRESS London is a juice company, but its blog covers all sorts of wellness topics, including skin care and mental health.
PRESS London sells juice, but uses its blog to build a brand of wellness.
And then there’s Orbit Media, the Chicago web design and development shop that dedicates the bulk of its blog to tips for content marketers. In fact, Orbit is one of the most trusted voices in the content marketing space – and the company doesn’t even offer content marketing as a service!
Benefit 8: Blogs Engage Current and Prospective Customers and Keep Them Coming Back
Blogging is good for nurturing and customer retention: it gives you an excuse to reach out to your current and prospective customers and establishes your brand as a source for news, insights, and education.
Even if you don’t have any company news or product launches to write about, you can use a blog to educate, inform, or entertain by…
- Explaining and commenting on industry trends.
- Compiling roundups (of podcasts relevant to your space, books, recent articles, etc.).
- Offering software recommendations.
And anything else, really, as long as you’re providing valuable content.
The blog is also a great place to encourage existing customers to consider new or expanded products or services.
Benefit 9: Blogs Fuel the Rest of Your Marketing Program
Done right, a blog can provide fodder for your entire marketing operation. Good content can be endlessly repurposed into other high-value marketing initiatives.
Here are a few things a blog can feed:
Below is an example of a PR program fed by blog posts. Firmspace provides private office spaces to professionals. To reach more potential clients, Firmspace repurposed its blog post “How to Prepare to Be a Guest on a Webinar in 5 Steps” into a contributed article in the publication SmallBizDaily, bylined by a Firmspace thought leader.
Benefit 10: Blogs Tell You What Resonates with Your Customers
Your blog is a great low-stakes way to find out what resonates with your customers. You can play around with different messaging, subject matter, and style until you find your sweet spot.
Blog metrics are a window into what potential customers and searchers want to know and how they react to your content. Those insights can inform the content you produce. Even entry-level analysis using Google Analytics (which is free!) can show which posts…
- Get the most traffic.
- Keep people on the site the longest.
- Lead to the most conversions.
For instance, you might find after a month of blogging that the bounce rates on your how-to posts are high, while your case studies are getting read to the end and keep readers on your site. This is a signal that your audience finds the most value in case studies, a takeaway that can guide the rest of your content calendar.
Use blog analytics tools to measure performance, adjust approach, and improve.
Why Blog? Because You Can’t Afford Not To
Blogs underpin so many critical business objectives, and they do a ton of heavy lifting on their own.
Blogging for your business brings people into your funnel and moves them through it, boosts thought leadership, powers marketing and sales initiatives, builds your brand, and helps you hone your messaging.
Like a great jean jacket, the business blog’s value only goes up over time, and it never goes out of style.
My trusty jean jacket gets a lot of mileage
Curious about how blogging can boost your bottom line? Get in touch, and we can talk numbers!