Your Blog is (Probably) a Dead Man Walking

Your Blog is (Probably) a Dead Man Walking

Content Writer: Cory Miller Cory Miller Marketing Program Manager
What has a better chance to survive, the small business you just opened or the blog you started a couple weeks ago? The answer might surprise you. A Washington Post article cites several studies that concluded only about half of the small businesses started will survive their first three years. In other words, 50 percent of small businesses fail. We can all agree that starting a small business is tough. It takes guts.

So, what about that blog you started? That has to be easier, right?

According to a survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 177 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the last four months (New York Times). This means that 95 percent of blogs are being abandoned. Quick, enjoy the five percent while you can.

Why do bloggers quit? There are a lot of reasons that bloggers throw in the towel. Some don’t have the time. Some run out of topics to blog about. Others don’t see the value. And almost no one knows how to market their blog. I’m sure some bloggers just forgot their passwords, but we’re going to exclude the outliers. Blogging has a tremendous upside (which I’ll discuss), but you have to be patient and committed. Don’t call the fight in the first round.

“I don’t have enough time.”

Don’t disassociate your blog from other marketing ventures. You would never say, “I just don’t have time to market my business right now.” If that were the case, you’d probably be lounging on a white sandy beach, sipping one of those fancy umbrella drinks and listening to Jimmy Buffett because things are going pretty well for you.

Every business has to decide on a marketing budget that works for them. That sweet spot may be 2 percent of sales revenue, or possibly 50 percent of sales revenue for new businesses. If you’re writing blog posts for your business, you should consider it a part of your marketing investment. Even if you can devote only one hour a week, this is enough time to write 400-500 words, which is a sufficient blog post by most search engine standards.

You know who does have time? Your potential customers. A study by Google about the evolution of B2B marketing found that customers are 57 percent of the way through the sales process before engaging with a sales rep. The sales process has been shortened by nearly two-thirds. Prospects are relying on online content to lead them down the right path. If you don’t provide prospects with insightful content about your products and services, then you’re likely losing out on a significant amount potential business.

Try this: If you truly don’t have the time to blog for yourself, then invest in someone to do it for you. This could be an outside agency like us, or someone you have on staff who oversees your blogging responsibility. Make sure you set a clear objective. Ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I want my blog to do?” Don’t waiver from this objective.

“I don’t have anything to blog about.”

This is one of my favorites. I compare it to the closet conundrum – that moment of hopelessness you feel when staring into your closet and think, “I have nothing to wear.” Even in your time of desperation remember this –a good shirt doesn’t have to be new for it to get compliments.

Look at your blog the same way you look at your closet. Over the years you’ve defined a style that works for you. You will continue to refine your look by adding new items and cleaning out the things you no longer wear, but for the most part your wardrobe doesn’t differ too greatly. Let’s safely assume you won’t be swapping your sport coat for a cutoff leather jacket any time soon.

Your blog is your closet, and your topics are your wardrobe. Don’t try to reinvent yourself with every new post. Your readers will become confused with your digital identity crisis. Instead, be really good at being who you are. You wouldn’t wear a shirt once then throw it away. That’s crazy. You also wouldn’t wear the exact same shirt every day. That’s crazy too. Your closet and your blog need to have a healthy rotation.

Treat your blog topics the same way you treat your shirts. Don’t get rid of them after one use. Instead, find new ways to wear the same thing.

Try this: If you want to figure out what topics to include in your rotation, write down the ten questions that you or your employees are asked most frequently. If consumers are asking these questions in person, you can bet they’re also searching for the answers online. Make these FAQ  the core of your blog topics. Continually find new ways to answer the same questions. Over time your answers will evolve the same way your business and your industry evolve. Nothing stays the same.

In addition, find five quality blogs in your industry and actively follow them. This will ensure that you’re staying up to date on industry trends and insights. Feel free to borrow a shirt from their closets once and in a while. Remember, good blog topics are like good shirts. They don’t have to be new to get compliments.

“I don’t see the value in blogging.”

This is the most common reason that bloggers abandoned their blogs. Compared to other digital marketing avenues, blogging is considered passive by most. I won’t argue that blogging will generate the same immediate return as your paid search campaign, but it’s far from passive. If you’re questioning the value of your blog, remember these two stats:
  • 77 percent of Internet users read blogs (IMPACT)
  • 57 percent of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog (HubSpot)

Blogging will lead to more business if you give it the opportunity. Nearly eight in ten consumers actively read blogs and many of them use blog recommendations to influence their purchase decisions (about 61 percent). Translation: people trust blogs. Don’t take advantage of consumer trust by using your blog to manipulate readers into buying your product or service. Instead, use your blog to provide consumers with quality and insightful information. It will establish trust and credibility.

Always consider your consumers. Put yourself in their shoes. What’s the buying cycle like? Is it a couple days or a couple months? Are you asking them to make a significant investment? Is consumer education vital in your sales process? What questions do they need you to answer?

Try this: Become a master of your website analytics. Keep tabs on how much traffic each blog post is receiving compared to other pages on your website. Also look at the referral source. How are prospects actually landing on your blog? Compare the average time spent on your blog to the other pages of your website. Which blog post has the most unique views? Analytics can reveal what’s working and what’s not.

Don’t let your blog become another victim of the content graveyard. It plays a big role in your digital marketing efforts. Consumers are devouring more information than ever before. You have to keep feeding them. Your blog is one of the best ways to do that.