Few businesses can go on indefinitely without bringing in new customers.
Word of mouth is always going to be the best way for new people to find you, but it’s not enough.
Digital marketing in general, and blogs in particular, are among the cheapest and easiest channels to get your name out there, establish yourself as an authority in the field, and build trust with your existing and potential customers.
Companies with blogs produce 67% more leads than those without blogs.
So do local businesses need to blog?
Only if they want to thrive in 2021.
Are you ready to learn how to use a blog for small business success?
Let’s look at why your small business needs a blog.
The Advantages of Blogging for Local Businesses
Blogging raises awareness
How do your prospective customers find out about your business?
Do they know your brand and what makes you unique?
Everyone wants to optimize for conversion, but conversion doesn’t matter if people aren’t even aware you exist.
Worse, they may not even be aware that the service you are offering is a real thing or that they need it.
Why should people use your knife-sharpening shop if they can just sharpen their own knives at home?
They may not even be aware that their knives are dull.
You need to make that conversation happen and make sure your brand is a part of it.
And a blog is one of the best ways to do that.
Once people know they need a knife-sharpener and they know your shop exists, why should they go to you instead of your competitors?
Local businesses get picked based on a few factors:
- Brand Awareness
I talked about awareness in the last section.
Proximity is not a knob you can turn — you are either close or you aren’t.
You don’t want to be a commodity, judged solely on price.
That is a race to the bottom in which local businesses lose and tech giants like Amazon take over yet another industry.
Trust is the most complex of the above factors.
Customer trust comes in the form of word-of-mouth advertising, as I’ll talk more about in the next section.
It can also come from reviews supplied by the general public, which can be problematic when they come from controversial sites like Yelp that have become a mixed bag for local businesses.
Trust can also come from establishing your expertise and authority through a blog.
Your customers want to be working with an expert, no matter what service or product you are offering.
They’ll also pay more for an expert than they will for a commodity.
It’s easy to just tell people what your favorite local restaurant is.
It’s much harder to express what makes that restaurant so amazing.
If you can provide your loyal customers with an easy way to advocate for you, they’ll want to do it.
Blog articles can be incredibly shareable, especially those with juicy, readable content and enticing images.
By adding easy share buttons, click-to-tweet blocks, and the like you can further decrease the barrier to sharing and increase your word-of-mouth spread on social media.
If you already have devoted customers, especially if they follow you on social media, you have an army waiting to dispense your content.
Blogging converts customers
Building awareness and establishing expertise is great, but you also want people to use your service, buy your product, or visit your stores.
The biggest mistake that company blogs make is talking too much about their product.
The second biggest mistake is never talking about it at all.
When you have good, informative posts with a well-placed call-to-action, you create a symbiotic relationship with your readers.
You answer their question and they buy your product.
Companies that use blogging and other content marketing strategies experience have 6x the conversion rate of those that just have a vanilla online presence.
Blogging makes your website easier to find on Google
When I search for electricians near me, Google has to decide which of the many possible electricians to show.
Search engines try to show the results that users want to see, but it needs some help in doing that
Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about giving Google and other search engines that that little nudge in your favor.
How do you do that?
Create high-quality content.
The more people you have visiting, sharing, and linking to your blog articles, the more likely you are to show up in searches.
That’s not the end-all of SEO, but it’s a huge part of it.
(I’ll cover some more specific tricks for optimizing the SEO and local SEO of your website in a later post, so just drop a comment or contact me if there is something specific you want me to address.)
When people get on Google looking for a service like yours, the difference between showing up 1st and showing up 9th on the search engine result page (SERP) is huge.
The 1st SERP result gets clicked about 40% of the time.
The 9th result gets clicked about 4% of the time.
If you are on page 2, you may as well not exist.
Without a web presence, you may as well not exist in 2021.
And without a blog, you may as well not have a web presence.
Common Misconceptions About Blogging for Local Businesses
Myth #1: Blogging doesn’t target local customers
When I Google “best restaurants”, I don’t see a bunch of restaurants from all around the world.
Google knows better.
Google shows me restaurants that are in Chicago, preferably right near my apartment.
This holds true for nearly any search you want to try.
You can improve your odds of showing up in local searches by blogging about things of specific interest to those in your area of service.
In other words, local SEO is all about local content.
I searched for plumbing tips a few weeks ago, and I found Apex Plumbing, a Chicago plumbing company with a blog full of tips specific to Chicago homes.
Social media makes it even easier to enhance your local traffic.
Your customers are the most likely people to re-post your articles.
Guess where most of their Facebook friends live?
Myth #2: It takes time and writing expertise to start a blog
First, let me say that anyone can write a blog post.
But terrible grammar can get in the way of a good message.
Writing a compelling article is a skill that you hone over time, and most business owners don’t have the time to refine that particular skill.
But you don’t have to blog to have a blog.
Wow, that was an awkward sentence, let me try again.
You can get someone else to write or edit your blog for you.
You can be as hands-on or hands-off with the process as you want to be.
On the one end of the spectrum, maybe you want to write out the entire post and just publish it yourself.
If you don’t trust your own grammar, maybe you get a copyeditor to take one final look before you publish.
Or maybe you just want to work with a writer that can take a topic of your choosing and create the article themselves.
No matter how much writing expertise or time you have, there is a way to make your blog a reality.
Myth #3: Blogging is dead
Every year, someone makes the prediction:
Blogging has died.
And yet, here you are, reading a blog post.
Blogging is only becoming more popular.
There are now 600 million active blogs worldwide.
82 of the Fortune 500 companies have active blogs.
80% of internet users interact with blogs.
Does that sound dead to you?
2020 pushed even more of the world online, setting 2021 to be the biggest year yet for blogging.
If blogging is dead, then so be it.
Because what is dead may never die.
What Should Your Local Business Blog About
The quality of a blog is all about one thing: user experience.
And I’m not talking about some generic consumer.
You need to be focused on the specific needs of your target audience.
If you don’t already have a customer persona, now is the time to make one.
It is with that persona in mind that you are going to start creating content.
Think about what the most relevant content for that reader would be.
What are they searching for?
What do they need?
What problems are they trying to solve?
That’s what you should be blogging about.
If you produce relevant content for your target reader, you’ll be doing just fine.
Create some content to raise awareness, some to establish authority and expertise, and a few pieces that are made to convert.
In some cases, you may be able to guide users through your entire marketing funnel using only your blog.
In other cases, it may only work for one or two sections of the funnel.
Remember that this is only one part of your larger marketing endeavor.
Be sure that your blog strategy meshes well with email marketing, social media, or whatever other digital and non-digital marketing strategies you are using.
The world is becoming more and more digital.
Your marketing mix needs to move in that same direction.
Social is great, as is email, but organic rankings on Google are important too.
You can start a business with a great landing page, but you’ll need more content to really get noticed.
Whether you need to build awareness, establish your expertise, or convert your customers, a blog is likely the best tool you can add to your toolkit
One of the most amazing things about blog content is that it lives forever on your website.
As long as the content remains relevant, it will continue to pull in readers.
How many of your other marketing channels can do that?