Blogs and online marketing. To even to seperate the two phrases in my mind feels weird.
Bloggers are online marketers. You can’t blog successfully without online marketing.
Online marketers who ignore blogging are entering a marathon with their shoelaces tied together.
A similar (and just as confused) debate is Blogs versus Websites. The question makes no sense. It is not an either/or question.
But let’s take a step back.
Rather than think “blogs versus …” remove technology, tactics and semantics from the equation. Instead let’s think strategically.
What do you really want to do?
- Gain traffic/awareness/attention/publicity
- Gather an interested audience
- Build trust and a positive brand image
- Break down barriers. Remove perceived risk
- Generate leads
- Make sales
- Earn profit
- Create loyal customers
- Turn loyal customers into advocates
Now you might not be there yet, or it could be that generating leads and making sales is in reality you sending traffic on towards your affiliate partners in return for a commission. Or you might be selling the leads, perhaps to a mortgage or loan company. In many cases the leads will be for your own company.
The problem many people have is to fixate on one tactic, and therefore creating constraints on how much they can realistically achieve.
For example one company might choose just to do everything with Google adwords. Adwords can absolutely do traffic and awareness. No question. Making sales with Adwords is possible, but only combined with well crafted landing pages.
Without mixing more than one tactic it is almost impossible to cover more than a few points. Multiple tactics working together is the only way to properly achieve your objectives.
Where in the list do blogs go? If by blogs you mean “regularly updated articles with some sort of subscription mechanism” then I would say one through six. You see when you talk about the intention, objective and the tactic you are not implying the same thing.
Free your mind, be more creative. Split in your mind technology and tactics from what you want to achieve and you will have much more success.
Using blog software or any type of CMS you are creating a website and therefore can create both articles and sales landing pages. So you can understand my irritation at the whole “blog versus website” thing? Some software is more ideal for some purposes than others but blinkered thinking is not going to help anyone be more successful, just keep some closed minded geeks busy debating on forums and newsgroups.
Build your cashflow engine first
Picture your sales engine (or whatever your end conversion goal might be) as a conveyor belt taking people towards your conversion machine. This machine lives in the center of your world, everything is built and tweaked to support this system at maximum efficiency.
It does one thing, and does it perfectly, it takes prospects and turns them into customers. This is where you go ka-ching, your customer gets what they paid for and money turns up in your bank account.
Before you do anything else this construct has to be absolutely the best it can be and be constantly improved. Only then can you move on to the rest of your requirements.
Of course you also need top-notch customer service and a working CRM strategy, but let’s continue with the little mad mental scenario we are building here.
Once your “visitor to customer transmogrifyer” is working at peak efficiency you can start building satellites to gather prospects to throw at it. Imagine around your conversion machine tons of small tractor beams fixing onto prospects and delivering people onto your conveyor belt. These tractor beams are your pre-sales and lead generation tactics. That is your articles, newsletter, blog, RSS feed.
Not all people are prospects. Before someone is a true prospect they need sorting and warming up. That means sourcing people, targeting the right candidates, drawing them close and wooing them.
You have to develop a gravitational pull that attracts the right people towards your tractor beams. These are your promotional methods, tweaked to only attract your best target. Advertising, SEO, links, and networking.
Start at the end goal and work back.
What do you need to make a sale? Convert prospects.
What do you need to create prospects? A target audience.
How do you target an audience? …
While it is not a magic bullet and it is certainly not wise to ever rely on a single tactic for everything, Blogging is a tactic that can cover many of the requirements of a successful online marketing strategy. Think long and hard how your whole strategy will work together from beginning to end, leave no gaps and constantly test and tweak.
How does your strategy work for you? Disagree with any of my points? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments …
In the final part of this business and indirect monetization blogging series I will share some of the best business blogs.
Here’s to your blogging and online marketing success!