We have spent some time testing the major blog editing software products over the last week to see if any were appropriate to integrate into our own offerings. Our conclusion from the analysis is that they are all quite good for the prosumer type of individual blogger, but not very appropriate for small businesses.
Business Blogging Benefits: A blog does two things for a small business.
- It helps you “attract” the prospects on the internet that are searching/shopping in your niche. It does that because other bloggers/journalists with similar content end up linking to you, so you drive people who would otherwise not have “found” you to your site through those other sites. Because those other people are linking to your articles, your search engine rankings start to improve for words/phrases that are important to your business (especially if you are thoughtful about how you write your titles), so you drive more people who would otherwise not have “found” you to your site through the search engines.
- It helps you “convert” these new prospects into qualified opportunities more efficiently. It is much more likely that someone will return to a website that has a blog “attached” to it with an RSS feed than if it is just a static website because these newly attracted prospects assume the content will change. A blog also invites these newly attracted prospects to engage with your small business via the comments section.
If you believe: Revenue = Attraction * Conversion, then a blog helps you attract more prospects and convert a higher percentage of new (and traditional) prospects to customers.
Blog Tool Issues: The problem with the major blog tools on the market is that they are not really built from the ground up to support a business. They are designed for an individual/solopreneur who wants to drive readership and ultimately sell advertisements on the site. Here are some of the shortcomings we discovered relative to small business blogging.
- Small business are short on time and want to make sure if they are going to spend cycles on creating original content that they are going to get more revenue. All of the blog tools can tell you if you are driving additional readers to your blog, but none of them can tell you whether any of that traffic is qualified prospects converting to customers. In addition, none of them can tell you about the blog’s impact on your regular/existing website because they are two separate entities. In other words, their analytics are just limited to the “attract” side of the revenue equation on the blog itself versus looking top to bottom at the entire funnel and across the blog and the existing website.
- Speaking of existing websites, most small businesses already have spent considerable money designing and building a website with a logo, design, and color scheme that matches their name cards, trade show booths, etc. The blog vendors make it easy for you to set up a blog with one of their templates and color schemes, but it is relatively challenging for a small business to get their logo, color scheme, and design on the blog itself. In addition, it can be a pain in the backside for a small businesses to create the new navigation link from their website to the blog itself. Also, the blog vendors use their own naming convention for the blog’s domain (i.e. yourbusiness.wordpress.com), so the SEO is building up in the wrong place. The net result is that most small businesses have a blog that is totally disconnected from their website which defeats the purpose of the project (more customers) in the first place!
- The existing blog tools do not provide “conversion” tools to help you qualify the newly attracted prospects like surveys/forms for collecting user interest. They also do not collect the list of self-selected qualified customers for you to follow-up on and use that data to feed the previously mentioned analytics tool.
I’m curious as to what some of you think about this? Do you have some of these issues? For those of you starting blogs, have you thought about these issues?