In the last post in this series I explained my preferred approach to business blogs. Let’s take a look at why you would bother creating a business blog. What benefits can you acquire by blogging?
As you would expect, I am a firm believer in the benefits of blogging for business, but I do know that blogs are hard work and that puts a lot of businesses off or leads them to have a half-hearted approach.
Business blogs are amongst the toughest type of sites to do well. I can’t name a single blogger who does the whole thing perfectly, but that’s fine because you don’t need to be perfect to gain most of the benefits.
Before taking on a tactic, any business needs to know what the Return on Investment (ROI) will be. There are three areas where blogs provide a return. Attraction, Stickiness and Conversion.
Each business will put a different dollar value to these benefits but they are the main results.
Attraction Advantages of Blogs
Blogs, when done well, attract. They attract visitors, links and attention. Which business does not want more attention? What would better search engine rankings mean to your business?
They attract through …
- Traffic – Search engine traffic, social media traffic and repeat visits
- Targeted Visits – Each post when topically focused will gain targeted visitors and search engines love focused articles
- Easy SEO – You do not need to be an expert with SEO, blogs are pretty well optimized out of the box, even better with free plugins
- Build Links – Write something useful or interesting and gain links from the blogosphere and Linkerati
- Internal linking – related, categories, tags
- Long tail searches – Over time you can build up some nice long tail traffic from posting regularly and attracting comments
Sticky Advantages of Blogs
Right from the beginning, website owners have recognized the value of repeat visits. Blogs are ideally suited to a business that wants to build a conversation with their customers without the increased effort of a forum. Also the advantage of being able to ask questions and get answers should not be overlooked. Community does not appear instantly but should be worked towards over time.
- Comments – Comments bring back the commenter and also other readers to see what is being said.
- Polls, Surveys, Voting – Interaction leads to interaction, they create engagement and interest
- Series – Leave an article on a cliffhanger or promise more information in a future entry
- Related posts, categories, tags – Go from one page view per visit to multiple pages with a trail of interesting content
- Popular posts – If you put your best stuff where it can be seen people will arrive through one post then see what a great resource your blog really is
- Subscriptions – There are multiple ways to keep updated with a blog, from RSS to Twitter. Let readers subscribe how they want and they will
- Regular Content – Just like the newspaper, people are more likely to come back when they anticipate seeing something worthwhile. Scheduled articles create momentum.
- Events – Create an event through Podcasts, Videos, Giveaways, Competitions, Memes, Projects, Carnivals
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Conversion Advantages of Blogs
When I say that blogs help convert customers, people get confused and think I mean that blogs are better sales pages. That’s not a blogs strength, they are more for the pre-sell, making the actual sale more likely.
- They build trust through repeated exposure and proven value over time
- Are read via “pull” rather than “push”, so you don’t feel a hard sell.
- You view on your own schedule and terms, consuming the information at your own pace
- Choice of media and length of relationship means more branding opportunities, written, visual, audio, interaction
- Build reputation on blog and off. Provide consistent on-blog experience plus references and testimonials off blog via links and quotes.
You still need your sales pages, blogs do not replace your existing conversion strategies, but strengthen them.
How to Create More Sales Through Your Blog
The sales approach is quite simple and fits into existing sales models. Think of what a good sales person does.
- Attract attention
- Identify a need
- Tell a story, evoke interest
- Describe and explain benefits
- Prospect imagines owning product, acquiring those benefits
- Desire builds
- Trust is established
- Offer is made
- Action taken
Now think of how you can do all of this using a blog.
- Attract targeted visitors who have a problem you can solve.
- Inform, advise, discuss.
- Positive experience over time builds trust.
- Visitor explores your offers and hopefully becomes a customer.
It’s up to you how strongly you put your offers before your visitors. You can see I am hardly in the “hard sell” category myself but there is no reason, providing you have established the trust and obvious value already, that you can’t be stronger in making offers and more targeted.
In the next post we will look at how you can gain all these benefits without having to spend all your time blogging rather than on your business.
Table of contents for series: Business Blogs
- Attracting, Retaining and Converting Prospects With Blogs
- The ROI of Business Blogging
- How to Get Maximum Bang for your Blog