Four reasons why your business should blog next year

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I spent the majority of 2005 writing a book on the topic of database marketing. I eagerly awaited release of the book in May 2006. For 90 days following the release of the book, I felt frustrated by the fact that few people were purchasing the book I invested a year of time writing.

By August, I felt frustrated enough to make a significant decision. I decided to write and maintain a blog that loosely paralleled the topics I wrote about in my book.

The time spent writing and maintaining the blog is significant. The value of blogging is even more significant. Allow me to outline four valuable things I learned about the important topic of business blogging.

Observation No. 1: Search engines love blogs

It took several months for the search engines to thoroughly understand what my blog was all about. Once the search engines observed that I wrote about similar topics on a consistent basis, they began to toss traffic in my direction. For instance, I recently wrote several posts about return on investment. Within two to five days, the search engines began to rank those posts above the fold, among the top 10 organic results. On an average day, between 25 percent and 50 percent of my visitors arrive at the site following a search.

If my blog can appear in the top 10 organic results on a major search engine, what will happen to a blog maintained by a business with significant brand equity and popularity? For very little expense, your blog will drive visitors to your site.

Observation No. 2: Your biggest fans will interact with you

I have been surprised with those who have chosen to interact with my blog. In general, I am lucky if one in 100 or one in 200 visitors chooses, to leave a comment. By requiring a validation code, I tend to get almost no spam.

The folks who comment are passionate about my topics, and are passionate in either a positive or negative manner. They tend to be people who visit the blog multiple times each week. They tend to be bored by some topics, and rabid consumers of other types of information. They don't like fluffy comments. They like getting value, for free.

Your business can benefit by offering thought leadership to your customers. If you market services, you can build bonds with your customers by giving away tips and advice. If you sell merchandise to consumers, you can get valuable feedback, positive or negative, from those who are most passionate about your business. You can get a read on how your consumers might react to new product introductions, or how your consumers feel about your competitors.

Observation No. 3: Your customers are already talking about you

Tools like Google Blogsearch allow you to get real-time updates on when people are speaking about your brand or business in the blogosphere.

For instance, I typed in a query of "PC-Connection" into Google Blogsearch, and learned that there are 123 references to this business in the past week. If you work for this business, hosting a blog will allow you to help shape the communication that is happening by consumers. If negative things are being said about your business, you can use your business blog to set the story straight.

I have had numerous instances where I find that various people are writing positive or negative comments about my blog. By being able to respond to the negative comments, I get an opportunity to help others better understand my point of view. By being able to respond to positive comments, I form important partnerships with colleagues.

Observation No. 4: You are likely to sell more products and services

The weeks when I tend to sell the most books tend to be the weeks immediately after writing a post that my readers found valuable. I can watch my rank on Amazon change significantly within two days of writing a post my readers liked. Similarly, your business is likely to sell more products and services if you maintain a blog.

Most businesses are hesitant to blog, fearing that negative feedback will hurt their brand, or that the investment in time will not pay dividends. I tend to disagree with these points of view, having had the opportunity to write my own blog, and increase sales of my book through the content I write.

In many ways, blogging is the new millennium's version of copywriting. In the catalog business, copywriters romance consumers with well-written prose. Few people questioned the return on investment of the text these copywriters wrote.

In today's online-driven world, the blog is the new form of copywriting. The advantage blogging gives the business is an interaction with consumers that was nearly impossible to achieve prior to blogging. Blogging represents a significant opportunity for your business to improve organic search results, exhibit thought leadership, have a conversation with customers, and sell more merchandise.

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