Blogs vs. Books: 4 Reasons why Brands Should Publish a Blog
Recent research found that a third of Brits would rather read a blog than a book. It’s an eye-opening statistic charting the shift to a preference for online content, as a nation of book lovers abandons physical print for more digestible blog posts. Notable victims of the trend include magazines ‘NME’ and ‘InStyle’. ‘NME’ went out of paid-for print in 2015 following six decades of publishing, and ‘InStyle’ recently underwent a digital transformation to become online-only.
It wasn’t all bad news though. Time INC. adjusted their marketing strategy and as a result, have seen a 20% rise in yearly digital revenues.
Retail and B2B companies are getting in on the act, with ‘brands as publishers’ becoming the norm. Search engine Google and beauty brand Maybelline both produce regular blog content, effectively keeping an active line of communication with their audiences.
It seems logical that brands should invest their time in blogging, with 77% of all internet users reading blogs and a huge 23% of all internet time being spent reading them. Content has become snackable. People prefer to dip in and out when they can, making it a habit to check for updates rather than wait for a print publication to be released.
Still not convinced? Here are four ways blogging can help brands grow:
1. SEO rankings
Search engine rankings have a huge impact on click-through rates, and being at the top of the page has a positive correlation for brand visibility. The site in top position on a search results page wins 33% of traffic, with this figure declining the lower its SERPs.
One way in which Google determines the order of a search engine results page is how fresh site content is. Regular blog pieces are recognised as up-to-date content by Google, and are therefore ranked higher as the algorithms crawl the web… constantly searching for web pages that are new or updated and then adds the fresh content to the Google index. This is particularly true for trending topics.
For example, if your brand publishes a blog on ‘Floral looks for Spring’ this will be rewarded with a higher ranking in the Spring it is published. The following year, it will be recognised as out-of-date and slip down the search pages.
SEO rankings are also affected by inbound links. A site’s authority is partly measured by inbound links- where the links come from and how many times a site is mentioned. It’s been found that companies with active blogs had 97% more inbound links than those without. With almost double the amount of links to a site with a blog than without, it’s a great way to win more mentions and increase domain authority
2. Business leads
Higher search engine rankings mean increased visibility, creating more brand awareness, so more potential customers hear about you as well as knowing where to find you.
All blogs could involve a call-to-action somewhere within the content. Determining the kind of CTA that suits your brand’s tone and objectives is important. For example, you may be looking to direct a potential client or customer further down the marketing funnel and could direct them to product pages.
Michael Aagaard from Unbounce.com says:
“Your call-to-action represents the tipping point between bounce and conversion.”
The stakes are high. With your call-to-action potentially prompting someone to take up your offer, or leave the page and look elsewhere. That’s why getting it right is critical and when it is successful, the business leads it generates are invaluable.
In fact, research from Hubspot.com found that leads generated from blogs cost 61% less than leads generated by outbound marketing like sales calls. Not only are potential customers coming to you, the money you have spent to get their attention is less than half the cost of outbound tactics.
3. Time effective
Although blogging is an inexpensive way of generating business leads, incorrect execution could prove futile. Establishing a content strategy that sits amongst your overall marketing strategy is an important part of successful blogging – the purpose of the blog in helping to achieve business goals must be understood. Aspects to be considered include the topics your target audience want to read, and how often they want to see your content. And with such a high potential readership, it’s important to focus your resources in the right area.
Short pieces are quick to write and can be committed to regularly. Hubspot.com’s ‘State of Inbound Marketing Report 2016’ found that 33% of marketing employees can write a 500-word blog post in 1-2 hours. Not long for something that could lead to an increased brand awareness and potential sales. But that’s not to say quantity should override quality.
It’s important to have relevant and engaging content to gain visibility and get people linking to your copy.
Longform pieces require more time and can be research-driven. They work well for B2B companies wanting to position themselves as experts within their industry. Data-driven and traditionally technical, blog articles need to be accurate and of a high quality – particularly if they’ll be circulated around LinkedIn groups – so it’s worth investing more time on them.
4. Controlling your brand identity
When it comes to blog topics, brands can be informed by a content strategy but ultimately, they control the topic. Establishing a tone of voice is something that consumers come to recognise and associate with a brand. This is where the lines between publisher and brand are becoming increasingly blurred. It’s not enough for a brand to provide good customer service, they are expected to engage with their target audience.
For example, brands have a presence on social media that conveys their image to followers. This is where that image can be carried across to blogging for a consistent marketing message. Jobber and Fahy’s 4Cs for marketing communications (2009) sets out the qualities every company should follow for effective communication.
So, a blog can help to convey your brand’s message in line with other customer touchpoints like social media. This consistent message boosts credibility, as customers trust your brand image more and more. Of course, the original message should be unique and competitive, but with a strong and consistent brand image, a brand’s credibility could rise above their competitors.
Blog content is available to consumers 24/7 – perhaps this is part of the reason why 58% of consumers said blogs are more convenient than paper print. With information readily available at our fingertips whenever we need it, it makes sense that a brand should control how they are represented online.
And finally, …
Blogs are unique in that they can help business grow in multiple ways. They work well for brands to build their identity, generate leads and improve visibility. Compared to outbound tactics, this content is relatively inexpensive. Content strategy is an important aspect to be considered and it’s important to invest time and resources in this or you risk running a blog that is ineffective.
So, take advice from Time INC. and get in on the online blogging trend – your consumers and business will thank you for it.