According to Wikipedia, there are over 156 million Blogs on the Internet providing information on just about every subject you can imagine.
If you consider that there are over 324 million Websites (based on a May 2011 survey by Netcraft), you can quickly see how valued Blog content is across the globe.
The term ‘Blog’ is commonplace in every conversation about marketing, so why are some businesses still cautious about implementing a Blog, and why is it now considered a mission critical part of the communications strategy?
Here are a few useful stats I’ve collected to help explain the scale of Blogging and related Social Media activity. You can also launch these statistics as an Infographic:
- B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than non-blogging firms. (Source: Social Media B2B)
- 77% of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses Social media, and,
- 82% of employees say they trust a company more when the CEO and leadership team communicate via Social Media (Source: eMarketer)
- 92% of Blog users who posted multiple times a day acquired a customer through their Blog. This decreased to 63% for those who blogged monthly and 43% who blogged less than monthly (Source: Marketing Charts)
- 60% of bloggers post weekly,10% of bloggers post daily (Source: Marketing Charts)
- Blogs are the single most important inbound marketing tool according to 81% of blog business blog operators polled. 25% of blog operators rate their company blog as critical to their business, whilst 56% considered their blog either important or useful (Source: Marketing Charts)
The Changing Face of The Sales Process and Why a Blog Can Help
We’ve known for some time now, that the buying process has seen its biggest swing since businesses first started paying attention to how people buy products and services.
The case for talking at your customers with conventional sales messaging versus engaging them in conversation is nothing new, but the gravity of this argument is quickly becoming apparent.
The Harvard Business Review published the results of a very important study this year to show that a customer is likely to be 70% of the way through his or her buying decision ‘before’ they bring a company in to discuss their requirements.
Just think about that for a minute.
If you assume a prospect will bring in three companies for comparison, you only have a 1 in 3 chance of being the company that the prospect feels most comfortable dealing with.
If they bring in 5 companies then your odds drop to 20%.
This means that your Leads are now not quite as HOT as you might think they are.
This scenario came up recently when I was discussing marketing tactics with a client in Renewable Energy.
As soon as I brought this subject up, the Sales Manager jumped in:
“That’s so true. Things have changed this year completely. Before people expected me to promote products, nowadays they are telling me what products they want because they’ve read up all about them on the Internet. Selling is getting much harder.”
In essence, selling has changed dramatically in the last few years because technology has empowered us with the means to take control of the buying process.
We no longer need to buy on impulse, and in fact we have become highly resistant to any process or communication that attempts to do it.
Here’s How Selling Used To Work:
- A salesman wants to sell you a product
- The salesman establishes wants and needs so he can claim that buying the product will satisfy those wants and needs
- Something always gets in the way such as timing, budget, or is it a need or is it a nice to have
- Because of this, the process needs a strong close
- Closing of course is nothing more than coercion and manipulation
Whilst all this is going on, the customer has very little chance to establish the reputation of your company, build any trust or see credibility in anything you offer.
Here’s how things work now:
- You don’t need to take an approach from a salesman because it’s probably not what you want.
- You’ve got better things to do at the moment, and when you do want to buy something you now have the tools to do it on your own terms.
- You know you have the biggest research tool on the planet at your disposal and that’s the Internet. All you have to do is fire up a browser and type in a question or a product name and the world comes straight to your computer screen
In fact on Google alone, we do this across the globe 4,717,000,000 times on average every day.
But here’s the deal:
92% of these searches fall into the first two, of three known phases of search.
People are either looking for inspiration relating to a particular subject, or are looking for ways to define their own objectives more accurately.
Only 8% of key phrase driven searches are from people looking to buy a specific product, service or solution.
Changing the Focus of Your Marketing Activity
It’s clear from the changing trends and supporting statistics that we have a new set of goals if we are to excel at marketing:
- Engage prospects when they start looking for inspiration
- Foster an environment of trust, credibility and reputation
- Keep the conversation going until the time is right for them to buy
- Ensure that when a prospect calls you in, they are 70% of the way through the process of buying from ‘your company’ and not any of your competitors
- Understand that the “close” begins as far back as the first time a prospect comes across any communications collateral relating to your company.
10 Reasons Why a Blog Can Support Your Sales Goals
- People don’t have to find your Website to find your Blog
- People will arrive at your Blog posts because someone they trust either referred them, or the content came up when they were refining their Internet search terms
- Your Blog posts won’t be selling anything, so the reader won’t have any barriers up when they arrive
- Your Blog posts will contain real answers, to real problems
- Your Blog posts will empower the reader with even more knowledge
- Readers can share your Blog posts with their colleagues to generate opinion
- Because you helped them achieve this you will appear credible
- Because you appear to be a useful centre of important knowledge and information, you have an instant reputation
- Because of your credibility and reputation, people will trust you
- Because people trust you, they will value your opinion when they get to a more advanced stage of the buying process
A Blog as Part of The Marketing Mix
If your Website is the centre of your promotional world, your Blog can be the centre of your engagement world.
Here are 12 things you can do with a Blog:
- Encourage people to make comments to engage them in conversation
- Capture their Email address for follow up marketing
- Give them an RSS feed so they receive updates and new posts automatically
- Feed your posts straight to Facebook
- Feed your post titles straight to Twitter
- Feed your posts straight to LinkedIn
- Create links to different parts of your main Website
- Turn your Authors into respected experts in their field
- Invite posts from leading authorities and industry experts
- Generate article Likes and referrals to help Google love you
- Add fresh content to your site on a daily basis to help Google love you even more
- Get content referred throughout your market in minutes, not weeks or months
Author: Philip Allen is the Studio Director at mwa Digital. He delivers Search Visibility & Engagement Strategies for companies who want to build immersive relationships with their audience.
D.Blog 5.0 With Enhanced Authoring, Tag Management, Spam Comment Management, News Feed and Social Media Integration
Empower your audience with knowledge and engage them more effectively in conversation with latest Drupal Blog solution from D.
Like many of the systems I help develop at D., our de facto Blogging system is the result of user trends and detailed customer feedback.
Our latest release is v5.0, and we’ve made a number of enhancements to help you grow your audience.
Have a look at the following illustration and it’s accompanying key to get an overview of what’s included as standard.
Of course because it’s built on Drupal, D.Blog 5.0 can be enhanced even further with extended styling and functionality.
1. Editable Banner
2. Search within the blog
3. Allow readers to subscribe via RSS
4. Link your readers to your other social media
5. Search blog by tags (alphabetically ordered)
6. H1 blog post title, themed in your site colour
7. Fully manageable parent/child blog categories themed in your site colour
8. Allow readers to share a post on their Facebook
9. Allow readers to share a post on their Twitter
10. Allow readers to share a post on their LinkedIn
11. Allow readers to share a post by email
12. Allow readers to share a post on their Google +
13. H2 blog post intro text
14. Illustrate your post with multiple images
15. H3 blog post subtitles, themed in your site colour
16. Add links, internally or externally, themed in your site colour
17. Tag your post with targeted keywords
18. Show your blogging authors to build authority
19. Let your customers comment on posts using the powerful DISQUS system (can be disabled)
20. Reply to other comments to create threads/conversations between customers
21. Auto-archiving of posts by month and year
22. Latest Tweets from your associated company Twitter account
23. Dynamic Google map and quick link to site's contact page
24. Enhanced layout with contrasting background / module boxes
25. Powerful DISQUS system integration, dramatically reduces spam commenting/moderation
26. Subscription for your audience which will allow for email updates with new posts
Author: Paul Barnes is a Senior Web Developer at D. and has an active role in Project Management. He has driven the transition of providing Responsive Web Design solutions using the Drupal platform, and has been a key contributor to a number of custom Drupal offerings such as mBlog, Companies and Contacts, and Xpress Checkout for Drupal Commerce.
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