Should blogging be on your marketing to-do list?by
For the past few years, you've probably heard so much about blogging that you're reluctantly concluding that now might be the time to join the parade. Yes, blogs do have a place in the IT marketer's arsenal - but only under the right circumstances.
By M.H. McIntosh, Mac McIntosh Incorporated
A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world. Your blog is whatever you want it to be. There are millions of them, in all shapes and sizes and there are no real rules.
In simple terms, a blog is a web page made up of short, frequently updated posts arranged chronologically like a journal. New stuff shows up at the top, so your visitors can read what's new. Then they comment on it or link to it or e-mail you. Or not.
Since blogs were launched, almost five years ago, they reshaped the web, impacted politics, shook up journalism, and enabled millions of people to connect with others and have a voice on the web.
The reason you probably know the definition of 'blog' is that blog readership is high among IT professionals like you. In August 2006, IT information-search company KnowledgeStorm surveyed 4,500 of its registered users, who are typically IT professionals. Of those surveyed, 80 percent said they read blogs, including 18 percent who read them daily and 33 percent who read them weekly. Keep in mind the percent of IT professionals that read blogs is dramatically higher the overall percentage.
While there are millions of blogs online, Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that only 39 percent of internet users read them. Before you decide to enhance your brand image and awareness with a blog, make sure your target audience is among the 39 percent of internet users who read them.
I recommend considering blogging if and only if your audience is reading them and if you need a venue to demonstrate your expertise (branding) or are looking for additional ways to move up in the SERPs (awareness). If you're more concerned with driving leads and sales, pass on blogging for now. There are plenty of marketing tactics that will have a more direct impact on your bottom line.
Establish your expertise
If you decide you need to establish your expertise by blogging and sharing what you know about subjects related to your products and services, then keep these six blogging tips in mind:
• Often, techies write blogs for technical decision-makers. However, some of the most effective business blogs are written by management personnel for business decision makers.
• Regardless of your editorial focus, the best-read blogs avoid hype and self-congratulatory content. Instead, they focus on content useful to their intended readers.
• To create awareness about your company, products and services, keep in mind that blogs tend to be favored in the web's search engine results pages (SERPs), especially if it’s optimised to your industry’s keywords. Optimising your blog can go a long way toward helping your company be found by prospects actively searching for what you sell.
• To gain and maintain readers, you need to keep your blog fresh. You'll need someone who has the expertise, writing skills and time to frequently post new blog content. How frequently? According to a research study by public relations firm Porter Novelli and market analytics company Cymfony Inc., only 24 percent of bloggers post once a week or less. Some 39 percent of bloggers post several times a week and 37 percent post daily or multiple times a day. I recommend that you plan to post new content to your blog weekly to start. You can always turn up the frequency later, once you're sure you have the ability to keep up the pace.
• If you're looking for links from the blog to your website to boost your website's search engine results, host it on a different server than where your Web site is hosted. Search using a phrase like 'blog hosting' on Google or your favorite search engine to find a number of inexpensive blog hosting options.
• To move potential customers through the awareness, inquiry, consideration and purchasing cycle using your blog you must relate all of your blog topics back to your services or products, to articles within your site, and other sales lead generation tools.
M. H. "Mac" McIntosh is president of Mac McIntosh Incorporated, a sales and marketing consulting firm.