Kevin McNulty (@netweave), an esteemed friend and colleague in the industry (I can see his eyes rolling — he’s so humble), asked me for my thoughts on this week’s Marketing Profs Report showing that Social Media usage among Inc. 500 companies was up, while blogging was down. Although I am far from a bandwagon jumper, Kevin knows I am a proponent of well-planned, well-executed blogs for business. When launched and maintained correctly, blogs can become a hugely powerful part of a company’s content marketing arsenal. But, certainly not a magic bullet. Blogging has to be part of a larger content strategy — including the smart use of social media channels.
Usage is Down. Effectiveness is Not.
First, let’s look at some effectiveness numbers. According to Hubspot, businesses that blog have a clear advantage:
- 68-77% more leads
- 55% more website visitors
- 97% more inbound links to their website
- 434% more indexed pages on Google
Perhaps this means that those companies who are sticking with blogging (and doing it right) are indeed landing more leads, visitors and Google-juice as Hubspot suggests.
So Why the Downward Trend in Usage?
My first reaction when I saw the dip reported by MarketingProfs was a simple nod of the head. I’m not altogether surprised. Although data from multiple sources continues to tout the fact that blogging is effective, there are many realities that I see factoring into the dip in usage.
Corporate Blogging is Hard
Yes. It’s true. Blogging (effective blogging that is), along with other content-intensive media, requires a high level of effort, skill, planning, resources and strategy. But, don’t take my word for it. Research shows that the biggest challenge for marketers today is “producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers.” The second biggest challenge was simply producing enough content. (Source: 2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends).
Although many companies have the very best intentions when launching into a blog, many quickly find they may not have the right resources, planning or corporate culture in place to do it right. I’ll refrain from tooting the Well Planned Web horn too much here…but this is where having a content marketing partner can help.
The SEO Sugar Rush is Over
Blogging has reached the end of its “something shiny” phase. In other words, those companies that were leaping on the blogging bandwagon rather than blogging for the right reasons are likely outta the picture. There was a time where many companies blogged strictly for Search Engine Optimization benefits — rather than to add real value during a prospect’s research or buying stage. Blogging is not a magic-wand tool. Companies that use blogging for delivering true value to audiences will gain real, long-term benefits (a.k.a. leads).
Blogging is Not Right For Everyone.
Part of why our team sees blogging as such a powerful medium, is because the majority of our clients have a “complex sale.” In other words, our clients’ products and services typically require continued discussion with prospects to aid in product research, education and decision-making. Becoming a part of the prospects’ research process through helpful, informative content creates a relationship of trust. Blogging, when part of the right content marketing mix, is amazingly effective.
Let’s face it… the same cannot always be said for the “less complex” sale. Buying pizza, an airline ticket or a baseball bat just doesn’t demand the same depth of content to build the relationship. In fact, those relationships are far better off being nurtured and built through social media outlets like Facebook (which also requires a dedicated expertise, by the way).
Status Quo Content = DOB (Death of Blog)
If blogging doesn’t become a “high-yield” tactic, it’s often one of the first items cut in the corporate marketing budget. The #1 reason for blog death: Status Quo Content. Ditching the “words on a page” mentality and embracing highly-relevant, highly meaningful content takes dedicated, planning, time, (and dollars). But developing a real Content Marketing strategy can dramatically turn around the effectiveness of a corporate blog, as well as your other online marketing efforts.
Does your company have a corporate blog? Is it well planned and maintained? What has your experience been?