Blogs are wonderful for marketing. But they’re terrible for drive-by sales.
What I mean is that using a blog to sell products or services directly usually brings dismal results. If you expect a first-time visitor to come to your company blog and immediately buy something, you will be disappointed. I guarantee it.
If you have or are considering appending a blog your small-business’s company website, just do not try to make it close sales.
A blog is a lot of great marketing things, but it’s not suited to generating a high number of direct sales conversions for a product or service. Some business owners expect to be able to measure a blog’s results the same way you might measure an email offer or a direct mail piece. They expect, say, 3% of those who read it to convert to sales, or some such metric. That’s a mistake.
But — blogs can be helpful in getting new customers, as long as you don’t expect visitors to click the buy button on the very first visit. And the good news is, there are steps you can take to draw in potential new customers and ultimately get them to buy.
I was invited to write a guest article over at Elance.com on this topic and I see it’s now posted. Check it out: Using a Blog to Attract New Business.
More in: Content Marketing
A blog should not be confused for a direct selling landing page.
Great advice! We will look into these points for our own blog. We will write more actively when we have Blue Chip Community up and running.
All the Best,
P.S. Note Bene: I wrote the same comment on Elance site.
Thanks, Martin. I hope you didn’t find any typos in my article over there (oh typo elf). Anita
Great points Anita. I would add that you need to be patient when starting a blog. Our blog is now two years old, and is the oldest blog in our industry. For many months, though, I would write blog posts and look at the traffic and be disappointed. But I continued on, and now we gets hundreds of visitors a day and we get more visitors to our main site from our blog than any other source other than the search engines. I estimate that we get 4 new customers a month resulting in $2,000 in sales directly from the blog.
We also get many people who visit our own main site, then go and check out our blog and place an order. I have no way of measuring the impact that our blog has on these people but I know the blog helps create the impression that we are an industry leader. Our blog is also mentioned in trade publications now and has resulted in speaking and writing engagements for me that increases our exposure in our industry. But this all took time and perseverance. If you start a blog I think you need to be committed and do it continuously for at least a year before you can judge whether or not it is worthwhile.
I guess it is safe to say that a blog and a web store should go hand in hand. I have thought myself about starting a blog but didn’t think it could affect my website this much. Peter, your story definitely makes me think twice. I guess I need to try this approach.
Great advice, Peter! And glad to hear about your very positive results.
It’s doubly interesting coming from a business and industry that people wouldn’t automatically think would have a blog. You are a real leader.
Excellent and well said!
By the way, how is your logo coming?
I have to agree, Anita. I’ve not had much luck selling via my blog!
Peter Renton is absolutely right! Blogging is an effective tool for an online business only
if used properly.It is tedious,repetitive and in some cases truly infuriating.When my firm
began our blogging efforts we were warned that it would be a long term project and that
we had to arm ourselves with patience,something that can be in short supply in most small businesses.Nevertheless I thank you for your words of wisdom.
I agree with your works.
By the way, I didn’t mean to imply anything negative about blogs. As I re-read this article that may have been the impression I left. 🙂
I think blogs are great and definitely recommend them as an online marketing strategy for small businesses.
Just use them for marketing — not selling. There’s a big difference.
Set your expectations appropriately and you won’t be disappointed.
A blog is a trust building tool. It allows your prospects to get to know you and what you have to offer.
Peter Renton: You have nice blog. I am interesting to learn more about the “label” business. I purchased several types of labels for the production of welding electrodes. Have you used labels for a guerrilla marketing campaign?
Anita: I didn’t find any typos in your article. I couldn’t find anything negative in your article. I think it is good to be frank and state the main function of a blog. During my blog work shops, I ask what they want to use their blog for and I want them to share with me their interests, passions, hobbies and field of work. Then we could go from there…
What a terrific post, Anita! I think it’s really important to understand what role each marketing tool has; what it can do and what it can’t. In fact, the list you gave on the ELance post is outstanding. I do have a question for you and hopefully for the rest of the community here — when your blog DID get you new business or contribute toward a customer’s decision to purchase from you, what do you think triggered it?
Hi Ivana, actually I have gotten 100% my business in recent years either directly or indirectly as a result of this site.
But — I don’t really “sell” anything here (except I guess the free magazine subscriptions for which we earn a small fee whenever subscribes, but that’s such a small thing).
In every case it’s been a matter of people visiting, becoming familiar with the site, and developing a relationship.
Some of those relationships have taken many months, in some cases a year or more, to develop.
But I don’t use this site in such a way as to try to close sales.
As TheMobiBlog points out above, a blog does not make a good direct selling landing page. For one thing, there are way too many distractions on a blog.
This is a great post. From a business perspective the most powerful blog is an educational tool. There is no shortage of companies selling products, but customers often find, with frustration, that no vendor is willing to take time to answer their questions because these vendors are too busy trying to sell product.
A blog is a great opportunity to step away from selling, and focus on helping. Then, as Peter Renton points out above, sales will follow naturally without forcing the issue.
This topic appears to go hand in hand with your most recent post about whether small business owners (or anyone) would visit an anonymous website/blog more than once. I agree with you and my fellow commentors in that it serves as a credibility builder. When I visit a new blog, if the content is original but overtly commercial, or if it is clearly pulled from another source, a stop reading (and usually go Back in my browser or close the window). However, if it is original and GOOD (and not too commercial) I find that my eyes start to wander to the About/Contact links as well as product or service banners/links.
So in my mind, the better the content in a single post, the more likely I am to not just view a product/service link or banner, but click on it. So in that way, content can translate to better CT performance or order volume.
Peter, I could see where your blog could have an impact that drives people to your main site. A blog reflects the personality of the author, an introduction to someone or something,updated daily. I am not saying that a blog should be used as a direct selling landing page, but I can see how it would work.
What can you can do is use a blog for lead generation or branding purposes. This will help you build trust and community with your target audience.
For help building blogs and websites that sell I have an actual resource to share, http://www.findvirtual.com/ check it out and let us know what you think.