Editor’s Note: While Content Science focuses on enterprises, we often get questions about content from small businesses. We believe no organization is too small to benefit from thoughtful content, so we’re delighted to bring you this two-part interview with Erik Wolf.
Are you a small business owner who doubts that blogging is worth your time? You’re not alone. Erik Wolf, author of Blog for Business: Leveraging Content for Online Marketing + Lead Generation, hears this all of the time. Many small business owners unfortunately fail to understand the important connection between blogging and lead generation. Erik Wolf talked to us about how important blogging is to a content foundation and how that content works on your behalf to help bring you business—if you do it right.
Blogging for small business has evolved rapidly over the years, going from a nice-to-have to a necessity. Why has blogging become so essential for small businesses today?
Today, typical small businesses tend to dabble in various content strategy components. They might have a blog because someone told them that bloggers get a lot of traffic. So they start a blog, but then their writing typically tapers off a few weeks or months after they start. But this is typical for how a lot of small business people approach marketing. They might start a monthly email newsletter, but it will only go out quarterly. They’ll work with SEO people, then social media people, and then AdWords people. In each case, they started up these activities because they felt they were each a silver bullet—a way to quickly make money by generating more traffic and leads.
However, there are no silver bullets. Instead, we see blogging as a content foundation that helps you create email newsletters, SEO-friendly website content, social media, and other marketing initiatives with less effort. Blogging is the only online marketing initiative that creates its own byproducts. When you just spend money in SEO, it only benefits SEO. When you just spend money in social media, those 140 characters on Twitter aren’t useful anywhere else. But with blogging, if you’re creating 300-600 words once a week or 1200-2400 words a month, then you’re not worrying anymore about what’s going in your email newsletter or social media channels.
So instead of worrying about separate content creation in various siloes, you’re really just creating content in one place?
Yes, you’ve already got your content written in those blog posts. You shouldn’t have to worry about what’s going up on social media, an email newsletter, or a white paper. You already have it. There are many economies of scale in blogging that help small business owners create more efficient marketing strategies that consume less time and money.
I like to think of blogging as a kind of whiteboard. You’ve got ideas in your head, and once or twice a week you get to write those ideas out and share them. And the feedback is extremely helpful: people’s opinions, search engine traffic, Facebook likes, email clicks. Those blog posts not only help you drive traffic today, but the feedback teaches you what to write about next.
Blogging sometimes has the reputation of being an erratic lead generation tool. How can blogging help generate online leads?
People who criticize blogging as a form of lead generation have generally not allowed blogging to influence their marketing collateral in a meaningful way. We all know that most traditional sales brochures end up in the garbage, and yet we keep spending money on creating them. But what if you could create a brochure that someone would actually read? In many cases, that’s a blog post.
I see consistent lead generation requiring five things:
- Great content – your blogging – as the foundation.
- Outreach. You need to be able to share the content via email, social media, by way of your sales prospects, etc.
- You need to do #1 and #2 consistently.
- You need to drive and measure traffic through content sharing and organic SEO.
- You need a website that is capable of converting leads.
By doing these five things, you’re doing exactly what Google wants you to do. They all build upon each other. If you do these things, you’re going to generate leads—and it all starts with blogging. In fact, what you’ll often see is that the blog eventually becomes the most popular content on your website. It will draw a ton of traffic. And if you’re watching your analytics and you see how your traffic is growing, what kind of searches people are using to find you, and how strangers on your website eventually become sales leads, then you’ll clearly see a tangible and visible connection between blogging and lead generation.
In Part II of our interview, we’ll talk about the hard road of blogging – the frustrations, the psychological hurdles, and how to overcome them. In the meantime, for more practical insights about blogging for small business, check out Blog for Business: Leveraging Content for Online Marketing + Lead Generation. He also writes a great blog at Zero-Gfocused on small business.