... and how to deliver on the potential of your blog
The potential benefits for a small business that blogs are vast. Along with building brand identify and improving reputations, it can also help build a loyal base of customers, increase search engine visibility in a fiercely competitive environment and lower the overall cost of marketing goods or services.
However, it's common for businesses to fail to reap the rewards they were looking for when they start blogging - I've identified five below. There are some common reasons for these failings, that I've seen when working with clients, which if acknowledged can be used to turn the blog around to deliver on the benefits originally sought.
1. Lack of skills and resources
Perhaps the biggest reason why a small business blog fails is down to a lack of skills and resources. Even though the author may have extensive knowledge about the subject in question, this may not relate to a piece of written work. What’s more, with so many other areas of the business to think about, the blog writer’s attention may be elsewhere and not fully focused on the content.
In fact, according to a survey of B2B marketing professionals carried out by TechValidate, the biggest content-creation challenge was that it took too much time. If even the largest of companies struggle to set aside enough time to blog, it must be incredibly difficult for smaller organisations. Thankfully, there are a few options and alternatives any business owner can explore.
Possible solutions to this content marketing challenge
- Outsource to content writer – A specialised and dedicated content writer will be able to cover any gaps in your knowledge while producing high-quality, informative and engaging blogs.
- Outsource to a marketing agency – If you can’t find a content writer to satisfy your blog writing needs, then a marketing agency will. With a wealth of experience in dealing with businesses big and small, a company that specialises in content can address any problems you may be having.
- Allocate time for content – Creating and distributing content is now a fundamental element of several large scale marketing strategies, so you should take it seriously. Make sure you set aside some time solely for the purpose of writing great content and distributing it effectively.
2. Unrealistic goals, or no objectives whatsoever
Let’s get this straight from the start - writing a regular blog will not transform your business’ fortunes or improve bottom line sales overnight. It is a gradual process, which takes time to implement and notice the benefits.
Blogging isn’t exactly an easy undertaking either, as it requires quite a bit of thought, hard work and dedication. Don’t make the mistake of diving in head first without realising what you’re getting yourself in for.
Possible solutions to goal setting for your blog
- Ask yourself some key questions - Why do you want to blog? What do you want to achieve? How many blogs can you realistically create and publish per week? Answering these queries should stand you in good stead.
- Learn from other blogs – There are bound to be several examples out there of small business blogs that went from obscurity to prominence. Research successful blogs, learn how they did it and reach out for help and advice.
- Be conservative, not outlandish - Whatever your objectives may be, it is best to err on the side of caution and have conservative blog objectives. If notoriety is achieved, it will be a welcome surprise and you can build on this success.
3. Poor knowledge of your audience interests
It is all well and good writing regular content about interesting or entertaining subjects, but if these topics or themes have nothing to do with your target audience, then there is not much point in blogging at all.
Furthermore, you could be publishing and distributing your blogs in all the wrong places. Even if you’ve managed to produce a spellbinding piece of content, which is of great value to clients or customers, making it more difficult to access than it should be won’t achieve favourable results.
Possible solutions for understanding your audience:
- Develop specific buying personas – Think carefully about the type of person you want to attract by developing some buying personas. That way, you’ll know exactly who needs to be targeted and can tailor content accordingly.
- Understand audience behaviour – Consider your audience’s everyday problems and goals in life, where they go to access information and what they look for when shopping for goods or services. Not only will content be more relevant, you can position it in the right places too.
- Reach out to consumers – The beauty of marketing in today’s connected society is the ease in which consumers can be contacted. Reach out to potential customers and prospective clients, ask what kind of content they’d like to view and where they’d want to view it.
4. Poor quality content
When consumers go online, they are by and large looking for answers or solutions to common questions or problems. Your job as a small business blogger is to provide a resolution, way out or guide to these issues through top quality content.
However, if your blog does not tick these teaching and learning boxes, success will not come to fruition. In addition to driving consumers away from your site, inferior content can also damage your reputation beyond repair. Content is no longer about quantity, its all about quality.
Possible solutions for improving your content:
- Take different approaches – Business blogs don’t have to be boring, unoriginal or lacking interest, they can be full of life, vigour and colour. Therefore, think about injecting a bit of humour, controversy or opinion into your blog. Tell stories about real-life encounters and previous experiences too.
- Always proofread – Even minor spelling and grammatical mistakes make a difference, so always proofread your work before publishing. Readers won’t think much of your writing skills if there are lots of errors, which reflect badly on the business too.
- Integrate other types of content – Even though your blog will mainly concentrate on the written word, there is nothing stopping you from integrating other types of content within. Insert product photos, visual demonstrations, Internet memes or viral videos to increase interest and engagement.
5. Lack of feedback
A unique aspect of blogging, which sets it apart from other content mediums, is that readers can make comments or provide feedback. If your blog doesn’t give clients or customers the opportunity to provide their own two cents, it won’t perform well.
You might not look forward to receiving and dealing with negative remarks or views, but these kinds of conversations are what blogging is all about. On top of that, this constructive criticism can help you improve and grow as a business, collect vital and valuable audience analytics as well as the tools to measure the reach and effectiveness of your blog.
Possible solutions for encouraging feedback:
- Insert comment section at the bottom of your blog – The easiest way to receive feedback from blog readers is to include a comment section at the bottom of the page. Most blog sites have this feature, but numerous HTML tutorials exist if you’ve built the site yourself.
- Ask questions on social media – After publicising your blog on social media, ask your fans and followers what they think. These conversations give you feedback about the blog and can increase your exposure on social media too.
- Creating content that doesn’t spark a reaction – Readers of your blog need a reason to make a comment and if this isn’t happening, the content might not be appropriate or evocative enough. Go back to your objectives and audience demographics, look at content carefully and give visitors something to talk about.