Using Your Blog as a Marketing Tool

A while back, we discussed the benefits of having a blog and how to choose the type of blogging service or software to use.

A review: Why you want to have this blog in the first place:
1. Your blog will help you to communicate with your customers and stay accessible to them if they have questions or needs.
2. The blog, when kept up, will keep your site current. Search engines love a current website that’s ever-evolving!
3. Your blog is a great opportunity for inbound links, yet another thing that search engines love.
4. You can maintain your blog yourself, without knowing how to program, thus saving you the costs of hiring a programmer.

So now that you have a blog, how do you use it to grow your business?

First, what will you blog about?
– New products in stock? New trends or controversial topics in the industry and you’d like to weigh on them?
– Having an in-store or online sale? Starting a new customer loyalty program? Your customers want to be in the know.
– Are there local events related to your business that would be of interest to your customers? Are you hosting or sponsoring a fundraiser? You can also use your blog to announce in-store contests and design challenges.
– How about online contests? There’s a trend lately with a lot of artist blogs to have giveaway, requiring blog readers to simply comment on an entry in order to be entered into a drawing for supplies or artwork. This helps create excitement, interest and a regular readership.
– Have you hired a new staff member or added a new instructor to the roster? Have you added new classes to your schedule?

Basically, anything that is relevant to your customer service is going to be relevant for you to write about in your blog.

Here are some other tips for writing in your blog:
– Post to your blog regularly. Keep it current.
– Keep it interesting.
– Write clearly. If you’re not confident in your grammar or spelling skills, use a spell checker or have someone edit your blog entries. Another option is to hire a consultant to write your blog for you, using information that you feed him or her.
– Keep it succinct! With all of the media out there clamoring for your customers’ attention, brevity is sometimes more productive than a long-winded epic.
– Share information. Turn your site into a resource that users know they can revisit often and learn new things.
– Write good subject lines. Make sure your blogging software turns your subject lines into the page title. Search engines read the page title to learn what your blog entry is about.

Now you just need to let readers know your blog exists!

Start out by telling your friends and customers, online and offline. Print your blog URL on your next batch of business cards. Add it to your advertising. Put your blog URL anyplace where you’d put your website address.

Constant exposure. Wherever you travel on the web, whether it be mailing lists, Yahoo or Google groups, forums, bulletin boards etc., always put your blog URL in your signature file. And be sure it’s in your email signature file, too and be sure it’s used in all of your correspondence. When commenting on other blogs, there is usually a field where you can enter your URL… be sure to fill that in!

Take a look at other blogs you currently visit to pick up tips on how to use yours. Do a search (ie, “scrapbooking + blog”) to find other blogs in your field and do your research on what’s current in the blogging world. There are a number of blogs that are all about blogging and using your blog for marketing…search those out as well. Keep your eye on the trends and apply them as needed to your own blog.

Be nice. Be real. Be happy.