Why do businesses blog? Is it just to improve their SEO? Or does this humble art pay dividends beyond nudging your brand up a few spaces in search engine results pages?
While blogging is a cornerstone of many brands’ SEO strategies, we would argue that looking at your blog as just another SEO tool does both your blog and your brand a disservice.
Blogging is an opportunity to add brand value to your target audience and create positive associations for those prospects who need a gentle push to become customers. It can also help to turn one-and-done customers into loyal repeat customers and vocal brand advocates. Moreover, blogging helps provide your brand with a distinct voice and sense of personality, as well as being a fun and creatively rewarding activity.
Here, we’ll look at some ways in which brands can use their blogs to improve customer loyalty.
We’ve already talked about the importance of a people-first approach to content marketing. Every blog post needs to be written with purpose. This means not only considering what you write but for whom you write it.
Readers who alight on your blog will be at different stages in the customer journey. Some will be loyal customers who encounter your brand regularly. Others will be unfamiliar with your brand and have been led to your blog by a search engine – most likely because they have asked a specific question.
The customer journey is mapped across five discrete phases:
Different blog posts can be targeted at different points in this journey, but the emphasis should be on their needs, frustrations, anxieties or aspirations.
For instance, one post may be dedicated to helping readers solve a common problem to engage new prospects, and sew the seeds of brand recognition. You may or may not wish to position your offering as the solution, or part of the solution, to this problem. However, the emphasis should be on providing a useful solution to a common problem.
On the other hand, you may also wish to write copy that is designed to aid customer retention. This may involve writing posts about new deals or offers that they can take advantage of. These present an offer to peek behind the proverbial curtain as you and your team prepare for a special event, sale or giveaway – adding value while also providing a human touch and a sense of the people behind the brand.
SMEs could be forgiven for assuming that blogging frequently and regularly is the key to success. After all, that’s the fundamental and immutable rule of SEO and one that brands have had to adhere to in order to make themselves visible online.
However, while ‘little and often’ is a good rule of thumb for your social media profiles, it may not necessarily be viable for blogging. An emphasis on quantity can end up impeding quality. Especially if it means relying on AI platforms to keep a steady stream of content coming.
It is much better to focus on writing quality content than updating regularly. Write compelling, informative and valuable copy, share it on social platforms and trust that your audience will find it. Peppering your blog with low-quality copy for the sake of filling out your website will do you no favours in the long term.
While it may not always be easy to do so, try to take the time to plan, research and write your own blog copy. This is the best way to give readers the authentic flavour of your brand through its individual tone of voice. Where this is not possible, write a comprehensive content brief that can be provided to outsourced agencies or freelancers. A skilled copywriter will be able to assimilate your brand’s tone of voice and write quality copy that feels authentic.
Either way, make sure that the focus is on well-written, well-researched copy that caters to the needs of its audience.
The difference between blog posts and advertorials really cannot be understated. While, on the face of it, your blog is a vehicle to promote your brand it is not the place to openly promote your products or services.
That is, after all, what advertorial campaigns are for.
Advertorial is a very different form of copy from a blog post. It has different aims and requires different skills. An advertorial is essentially a piece of long-form ad copy in the style of a news article. While it may educate and inform prospects, its primary aim is to generate sales. As such, its success is judged solely on the sales figures that it generates.
A blog post, however, should focus more on educating the readership, creating positive associations with the brand and adding to your value proposition. It should be about building and nurturing relationships rather than the hard sell.
That’s not to say that advertorial is a bad thing. Far from it. It can be an effective way to generate sales and convert leads from paid traffic. Just try to keep the hard sell out of your blog copy.
Communication with your target audience is essential, and effective communication is never a one-way street. Your blog provides an opportunity to talk to your audience, not to talk at them. Try to create opportunities to engage with your audience. Ask them what kind of content they want to see and use that to guide your ongoing content strategy.
Add a comments section to your blog or use platforms like LinkedIn that allow users to comment on posts you write. When sharing your content on social platforms, actively encourage reader feedback.
Your audience is a potentially huge untapped repository of useful information. The more they tell you about the content you write, the more data you have to guide your ongoing strategy.
Your blog can be a valuable instrument for boosting your brand and improving your relationship with your target audience. What’s more, planning, researching, writing and editing blog copy can be a lot of fun too.
When you’re enjoying the act of writing for your blog, that genuine enthusiasm comes across to readers. It can only make your blog pages more engaging, more accessible and more genuine.