Although many predict its imminent death, with the popularity of vloggers and the rise of podcasts, blogs are more than ever at the center of digital marketing strategies. They are the key and an indispensable element in establishing credibility and building influence on the Web and social networks.
Internet users spend three times more time browsing blogs than reading their e-mails, and over 60% of consumers read blogs. Every day, it is estimated that more than 2 million blogs are published on the Web. On WordPress, this represents nearly 1,500 new blogs created every minute.
The importance of a professional context for a blog
For brands and organizations, blogs are a key component for the success of their web marketing and social networking strategy. A quality corporate blog will convey the brand image and vision of the company and develop a consistent digital identity. A blog and relevant corporate content that adds value to the conversation becomes the foundation on which to build an online reputation and the credibility of a company. This will make it possible to stand out from the fray and assert leadership and influence.
A corporate blog will also establish a relationship with users to better meet their expectations. By improving the customer experience at each of the points of impact of their journey, an effective blog, created and promoted, will generate new prospects. Finally, by optimizing it for the search engines (SEO), it will reach new clientele and attract more traffic to the site.
For businesses who don’t have the infrastructure nor the means to create a corporate blog, creating high-quality valuable content can prove to be a daunting challenge. Despite this significant challenge, a blog remains the cornerstone of any digital marketing strategy.
There are many ways to benefit from a blog without necessarily investing a fortune in tools and using a team. There are several automated, inexpensive, or even free-of-charge applications and solutions that will allow you to perform multiple tasks related to blogging and corporate content strategies.
Meeting the challenge of creativity for professionals and SMEs
To successfully integrate corporate blogs into your strategy, it’s not necessary to be a great author. It will certainly help to have the skill, but not essential. Every employee, every product, every business and every customer has a story to tell. It’s enough to have the drive to express yourself and to find your creative voice.
The success of a content marketing strategy will, at first, rely more on a new mindset than on techniques. Adopt a new, less intrusive approach to social selling: be there at the right time to deliver the right message to the right people. To achieve this, blogs and corporate content must be aligned with the quality of the customer experience and involve staff and employees in the strategy. To reach your clientele wherever it is, a multi-channel broadcasting plan should be chosen and the experts and influencers in your niche should be involved.
While there are many applications and solutions that can automate certain aspects (such as SEO, CRM, and newsletters) at little cost, it will still require some investment. To achieve successful results with a content marketing strategy, can take up to 18 or 24 months. It is therefore necessary to demonstrate a great deal of will and perseverance. And, trust to invest the necessary time and money. To take full advantage of the potential with blogs to build their niche and their influence on social networks, SMEs, and independent entrepreneurs face the challenge of creativity.
Align the message with the quality of the client experience
According to Google (Zero Moment of Truth), consumers consult an average of 10.4 articles/reviews before making a purchase. And three out of four will abandon the purchase if they do not find the information they want at the right time. More than half will complain on social networks to get satisfaction. The quality of the customer experience must become a priority for blogs and corporate content. Today, connected consumers demand a personalized, honest and authentic relationship with brands and organizations. The editorial line of blogs and corporate content must focus on a satisfying customer experience at each point of contact during the purchase cycle.
Building and developing a relationship of trust with your clients, however, requires a different, more voluntary and less intrusive approach. And, the most effective way to get there is to listen to users and act as a guide in the buying process rather than a seller. Educate the consumer to further improve the shopping experience and product use. A corporate blog must, in some ways, become an extension of customer service, and respond effectively to user queries. By providing relevant content, which meets consumer expectations, the corporate blog will establish the credibility of the company.
Involve staff and collaborators for blog contributions
Whether it is a large institution or an SME, the contribution of the whole organization is often the catalyst for a successful corporate blog. Since the last recession (2008-2009), consumers have consistently lost confidence in institutions, and systematically refuse to listen to their official message. More than 200 million Internet users have adopted blocking filters, and two out of three consumers now rely on the recommendations of experts or their loved ones. Within companies and organizations, content shared by employees is considered more credible and is consulted eight times more than management.
In this context, involving staff, collaborators, and partners in the process of creating and publishing blogs can be a major asset at several levels. There are many types of blogs and corporate content that are worth developing to convey the message of a company. The involvement of the best ambassadors of the brand, especially employees and collaborators, with an incentive program of social participation (like that of Oracle), will generate a greater resonance, and a better amplification of the message.
However, companies must provide employees with the necessary tools to create content. For example, L’Oréal Canada with the Content Factory, or Marriott Hotels with Studio M Live. Or use external collaborators and independent contractors. Investments must be part of the marketing budget allocated from the outset.
Revise and create new corporate content to optimize results
Businesses need to reinvent their marketing approach and revise their content to match consumer expectations. Do A/B split tests with content. Make sure to optimize search engines positioning (SEO), modify keywords, and add HTML tags. Increase attraction by integrating infographics, video capsules or free whitepapers to download (lead magnet).
To achieve its strategic objectives fully with a corporate blog, it is necessary to leave the traditional frameworks. With the advent of the Web and social media, the relationship between brands and customers has changed radically. Today the conversation should be two-way. Company messaging must be adapted accordingly, and their speech must be honest and authentic and add value. Brands must avoid self-promotion and stop only talking about their products and services. Rather, they must ensure that users talk about the brand because of the quality and relevance of the content.
This will become the key element to establish the leadership and influence of the organization.
Ask micro-influencers and thought leaders to collaborate to the blog
By integrating interactive elements, like contests, surveys, games and rich content, blogs encourage user-generated content. Content generated by micro and niche influencers will increase the credibility and authenticity of the message. By collaborating with thought leaders and influencers, companies ensure they reach new customers and increase the scope of their message. Comments, shared content, and endorsement by experts with products reviews, will bring greater credibility.
Sponsored blog posts must follow ethical standards set by the company and government (such as the FTC in the USA and the Advertising Standards Bureau of Canada). Brands must avoid falling into the trap of false recommendations like Warner Bros Games, and the YouTuber PewDiePie.
Increase the reach with a multichannel distribution model
The success of a corporate blog will largely depend on the distribution and distribution strategy. Publishing a blog on your website, and promoting it on social platforms is not enough. Opting for a multi-channel broadcasting strategy will optimize the blogs reach, using the PESO model. Paid media (publicity and sponsored blogs). Earned media (content generated by micro – influencers). Shared media (content disseminated by influencers and the media). Owned media (content published on its website and its social profiles).
To further increase the reach of blogs, sites like Tumblr and Medium and platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook should be used. And if blog posts meet their quality criteria, then influencers may rebroadcast them in their communities. This will provide even more credibility and visibility.
To maintain a constant attention and recognition, it’s necessary to create and regularly publish new blog posts. The use of a weekly newsletter will allow you to keep in contact with your subscribers. However, this newsletter must add value and avoid falling into the trap of self-promotion, which could then be considered spam.
Reputation and credibility are too precious to put them at risk with intrusive sales tactics. We must respect the ethics of corporate blogs. Blogs must demonstrate transparency and honesty while adding real value to conversations on social networks. To preserve users’ confidence and to avoid losing credibility, companies must do their utmost to avoid damaging their reputation. Influence and credibility on the web and social networks are not achieved by taking shortcuts. They are built and acquired with the quality content and the timely posting. This is what blogs and branded content help to accomplish.