I follow a dozen or so blogs. Most are for online businesses in general and email marketing in particular, and two cover sport, specifically rugby union. I don't know where this puts me on the national average, but I often think reading them takes up too much time. Yet I continue to click on them.
Blogs have the potential to be an effective marketing tool. Despite rumours to the contrary, they can be cost effective and if managed properly the ROI can be worthwhile. That need not take up much time and the content can be used across other aspects of your company. So what's not to like?
If you are thinking of putting your toe into the water then you should calculate if it will be worth it. Like so much in email marketing, you need to plan as well. Things to consider include:
1. What do you want out of the blog?
It might be more subscribers to your email marketing list, more exposure for your company or product, click-throughs, or perhaps to support your product. These are fairly easy to measure but if you are after loyalty accept from an early stage you might never know if the blog works.
2. Who are you are aiming it at?
This is probably the most important decision. You might be tempted to suggest that it is all those on your email marketing list but that might be a bit too vague. And after all, you've already got them. Should you focus on those who have evaded you so far? Remember that you have to justify the costs.
3. How much time/money can you dedicate to a blog?
Some suggest that a blog should be updated daily but this is a myth. You need to balance how much time you can afford, how often readers would like it to be published and finally, how often would they bother to read it, not often the same number.
You do not need to publish at any fixed frequency. My favourite blog comes out the day after 'my' rugby team plays a match. Off-season means a month between updates. In the season, there might be two matches in one week. This has specific advantages as an email is sent on update, which includes adverts and click-throughs.
4. Have a clear, concise content strategy.
Remarkable thought it sounds, it is all to easy to allow the needs of the blog to take precedence over those of your company. Visitor numbers are not the only judge of how successful the blog is. Do not place too much emphasis on your targets not being met, nor indeed if they are being exceeded, the important thing is whether you are earning a decent ROI.
Ask yourself what your readers will want to read. If they want technical, then give them technical but a little variation can be useful. Experiment on occasion by, for instance, trying a little humour. If it seems to work, don't suddenly turn into a comedian. Use it sparingly.
5. Work out what works well.
The stats are irrefutable, so believe them. Don't make excuses. If readers fall away, then try something else.
We will return to blogs in the future.