FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

    Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

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  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

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    CONTENTS


    eCourse Part 7 - Course Download1. Overview of integrated blog marketing
    2. Methods specific to Blogs
    3. General Online Methods
    4. Offline Marketing
    5. Next Steps

    As with any online site, the idea that you can build your Business Blog and then people will arrive in their hundreds will find you sadly unimpressed with the results that you receive. To make it successful, you will also need to spend time in promoting and marketing your blog.

    However, the upside is that this does not need to be as arduous as it might seem if you have set up and are using a Business Blog as we have been discussing, then many of these elements will be in place for you already, particularly with regard to the Search Engines. So now for the rest!!

    1. Overview

    I have divided the marketing into three areas for the sake of clarity, although they should all be working in conjunction with each other. The main aspects that we will be looking at are the online methods, both those specific to Blogs as well as more general emarketing methods, and an overview of some of the basic methods that you should also be employing offline.

    As a start point and as an overview, I recommend considering the elements outlined in the diagram below. This is a summary which I produced to give an overview of the integrated marketing approach that I take when looking at website promotion and general business development by mixing online emarketing with traditional offline marketing methods.

    eMarketing Overview

    Not all of these tools and techniques will be applicable to every Blog or every circumstance it is therefore important to assess which are going to be most effective and then focus on them.

    2. Methods specific to Blogs

    While it has been mentioned throughout this course, it is worth repeating that the fundamental element which all of the following methods build on is relevant, well written content. Good content will in itself attract visitors to your blog as people recommend your blog to others.

    Good content will also attract people who will want to link to your site. You will not have the same attitude as you get on websites where reciprocal links are requested – the essence of the Blogosphere is its power of communication, much of which is achieved through linking. This is done much more readily than elsewhere on the net but is based on merit and quality. People will reference your site and comment on what you have written if it warrants it this will create a buzz around your blog and acts in a viral marketing way.

    By maintaining the focus in your blog, you will continue to attract your target audience and, by continuing to supply information which meets their needs or addresses business issues that they have, they will read your posts, come back on a regular basis and recommend your blog to others.

    You are then in a position to turn to the other marketing and promotional methods that are open to you for your Blog.

    a) RSS Feeds
    All blogs should have at least one RSS feed and over time possibly more as you segment both your content and your blogs readership. The RSS feed will generally be created automatically for you by your Blogging software and so your main task will be to make sure that it can be found.

    If you find that you have to create your own RSS feed, then I would recommend that you try Feed for All which is quite straightforward to use. Alternatively, consider moving your Blog to a system which does this automatically as it will give you much more scope in the future and certainly save you time.

    With your RSS feed set up and in place, you can focus on subscribers and ensuring that they get the best from the RSS Feed.

      i) Make it easy to find your RSS feed – make sure that the link to your RSS feed is easy to find on your blog, as it is an important way to allow people to subscribe to your information. If you wish to create the individual icons for different readers then this will help to remind people to do so. Feedburner has the facility to help you do so or you might try TwisterMC. If you are using WordPress, then there is also a plug-in available from the same company.

      ii) Sign up to Feedburner while not essential for your feed to work well, Feedburner does offer a number of useful services around your RSS feed and so it is worth signing up and using their free services. One is to create a special RSS feed address which will allow you to see how many subscribers you have to your feed but there are others which I will mention below.

      iii) Email subscription to RSS for those people still unfamiliar with RSS Readers, you can still give them the opportunity to register for the information in your Feed via email. One of the services which allows this is FeedBlitz (www.feedblitz.com) which provides you with the necessary code to put the sign-up box on your site and then will deliver the articles from the feed via email to any subscribers.

    RSS feeds are an excellent and easy method to help readers to find you and your content so use them wherever you can.

    b) RSS Feed Directories
    There are also web directories where you can submit your RSS feed and where the content from the RSS can be searched on both for general subject area and in terms of the content of individual posts as well. Some feed directories that you can start with are:

    • Feedminer (www.feedminer.com)

    • RSS Locator(www.rss-locator.com)
    • Desk Feeds(www.deskfeeds.com)
    • 2 RSS

    c) Blog Directories
    There are an increasing number of directories which are dedicated to blogs and which can offer a good way to get your blog referenced and linked to. Most are general directories with sub categories which function in the same way as the main web directories, though there are already some which are focused on certain particular market areas.

    Being found in these directories will help not only encourage visitors to your Business blog but also help with the Page Rank element of Google. Some directories to get you started are:

    • LS Blogs(www.lsblogs.com)
    • Blogarama(www.blogarama)
    • BlogWise(www.blogwise.com)
    • BritBlog(www.britblog.com)

    d) Blog Search Engines
    There are some main Blog Search Engines which are important to be indexed in luckily, this can be done rather more simply than is the case with the mainstream Search Engines by pinging the relevant web servers (see below). The Blog Search Engines will generally then index the new posts on your Blog almost as soon as you have posted them. This is one of the key reasons why you can find such up to date information using these Search Engines and a contributory factor as to why blogs are so valuable.

    Two of the main blog Search Engines are:

      Technorati (www.technorati.com): you need to ping the Technorati server and ideally also sign up and claim your blog its free and recommended as one of the first things that you should do when promoting your Business Blog;

      Googles Blog Search (http://blogsearch.google.com): picks up from various sources so it will pick up your content if you do a general ping.

    e) Pinging
    Pinging, in terms of blogs, is where you send a short automatic notification to the blog servers (such as Search Engines) to tell them that you have posted new information on your Business Blog and that they should come to index it! Simple just remember to post and ping!

    Pinging can be set up to happen automatically within the Blog system itself in most cases and this is by far the simplest way. Alternatively, you do not have to ping lots of different places manually fortunately, there are some specialist sites which will help to do this for you.

    The main ones to check out are:

    • Pingomatic (http://pingomatic.com)
    • Pingoat (www.pingoat.com)
    • Feedburners PingShot:(www.feedburner.com)

    As there is a great deal of overlap in the servers that they ping, it is not necessary to uise them all so select your preferred service and use that.

    f) Blog Tags
    These are tags or phrases which are added to a post by its author to indicate the main elements of its content and so should give an accurate reflection of what areas the post is talking about. For blogs, the most commonly used are tags for Technorati the Search Engine then allows you to search not only in a general fashion but also by individual tags. Other sites which were the pioneers of this type of social tagging are Flickr and del.icio.us

    Including tags in a post will allow you to attract people who are searching on specific areas with tags rather than through general search methods, and used correctly can be very effective for both author and reader.

    g) Post Comments on other Blogs
    Right from the start, I have been encouraging you to dip your toe in the enormous number of blogs that are out there and following some than most interest you or you find most relevant. Ideally, once you have your own blog up and running then you should not only be reading them but also commenting on them. Its a way of getting your name out into the blogosphere as well as encouraging people back to your own blog.

    When you post a comment, most blogs request your name and your website address then when you submit your comment, it appears with your name which forms a link back to your site. Try to avoid comments which just say “Great Post” or something similar; although it will create a link back to your site, it really doesnt encourage people to use it.

    However, if you add value to the post in your comment, then there is a greater likelihood that people will want to follow the link from your comment back to your own blog to read more of what you have to say.

    h) Trackbacks
    When you write articles which reference other blogs, then you should always credit the original source and place a link to it within the text of your post. Wherever possible, you should also use a trackback. A trackback will automatically inform the author that you have referenced their post in your blog and are continuing the themes from their article in your own post. At the same time, it will also create a link in the comments section of the original post which people can follow back to your blog.

    Once again, the quality of the post that you write will then determine whether people consider it worthwhile to have followed the trackback and visited your blog so try to ensure that you are adding something to the original or taking it in another direction.

    3. General Online Methods

    I have previously described blogs as websites with special characteristics which set them apart and make them so very useful. Nevertheless, this does mean that they can therefore be promoted in the same way as a normal website using the online methods available to us.

    a) Search Engines
    The topic of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in blogs was covered earlier in the course and so I wont go over old ground again here except by saying that the main Search Engines consisting of Google, Yahoo and MSN are still the most widely used method of finding new information on the web. It is therefore very important to be found by them for your key areas.

    Business Blogs are great for this because they have excellent structure, contain focused content, and are regularly updated. Additionally, contrary to popular belief, you do not need to submit your site to the main Search Engines Google will pick you up through links that are created either from general websites, other blogs or directories and in any case will transfer information across from its blogsearch engine. Likewise, both Yahoo and MSN will do the same although as extra impetus, you should consider creating a My Yahoo page and then adding your RSS feed as a content source. Tests have indicated that it helps to get your blog spidered by Yahoos Search Engine.

    b) Generic Directories
    Submit your blog to the main web directories such as the Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.org) and any other relevant general web directories. You should be aware that many web directories will only accept the home URL of a site and so these would only be applicable if you have set your Blog up on a different domain name rather than when you have integrated it into your company site.

    c) Search Advertising
    Search Advertising, or Pay Per Click advertising, is just as applicable to Business Blogs as it is to websites. However, since you should not be aiming to sell directly in your blog, it is likely that you will need to take a more medium to long-term view to any promotional campaign that you run. Pay Per Click campaigns, however, do also raise general brand awareness as well as company profile, in addition to delivering targeted customers.

    Calculating ROI on any advertising done would be highly sensible, but it should be remembered that since a good blog is generally sticky (that is to say, it is better able to retain the visitors that it attracts), there is a greater likelihood of recommendations and return visits, so these should be factored into the calculations for a truer picture.

    d) Write Articles
    Posting articles to online article sites is a good way to both raise your profile and create additional inbound links to your Blog.

    You can use the subject matter in your posts to develop several articles which can then be submitted to these article sites which store and display the articles by category they can then be downloaded and used by others. Importantly, they also permit a signature which is a short block at the end of your article containing details about you as the author and where you can include a link to your blog. This signature has to be published together with your article if used by others.

    When submitting an article in this way, it is better not to simply use the original post from the blog but rather modify it for two main reasons:

      a) what is written as a blog post is designed for that purpose; if you are going to submit an article then it would be better to re-write elements of it and be able to submit something that it is designed as article;

      b) Search Engines can get difficult about things that they consider to be duplicate content it is believed that two pages containing over 75% similar content may fall into that category, so rewording elements of it will avoid any chance of this.

    e) Online Forums
    Participate in online forums which are relevant to your business the benarl business forums are good because they are divided into subject areas and so you are able to discuss elements with other people who are also interested in the subject matter. You can therefore reference articles within your blog during these discussions and well as develop a reputation which can be built upon in the Blog.

    In addition, most forums allow a signature area at the bottom of your comments where you can link back to your Business Blog good for Search Engines but also very good to help direct people interested in the forms subject matter back to your Blog as well.

    f) Email Signatures
    Not strictly online as such, but you should always make sure that the signature that you have on your email contains your Blog address in the same way that you include other details such as your website address and other contact details.

    If you wish to take it one step further, you can also use another of the free services from Feedburner (www.feedburner.com) called Headline animator which creates a small image which displays the titles of the last 5 posts on your blog and allows people to register for the RSS feed by clicking on the image.

    4. Offline Marketing

    Offline marketing techniques are equally effective for promoting your blog. You should therefore consider integrating the emarketing methods outlined above with the traditional offline methods that you already employ to market your company website.

    Rather than cover the area in great depth here, I will outline some areas that you should consider employing.

    a) Personal and Company Stationery
    Make sure that your Business Blog address appears on your personal and company stationery such as business cards, letter heads and compliments slips. Even if it is a part of your company website, if it is important enough to set up and develop then it is important enough to highlight as a separate section in the stationery.

    b) Business brochures and collateral
    Likewise in your brochures, flyers and leaflets, you should take the opportunity to give the recipients a direct link to further information on the subject.

    c) Presentations and Seminars
    You will normally have a section regarding you and / or your company so include here the address of your blog and the type of content that they will find there focus in on what would be of interest to them there. Remember there is no issue in having more than one blog! If your company has disparate areas of activity then remember that a blog needs to be focused and so you would be better advised to set up one related to each.

    d) Conferences and Exhibitions
    On your stand, on the flyers that you distribute and in any presentations that you give, you will have the chance to focus peoples attention on your blog.

    e) Direct Mailings
    Whether this is done in conjunction with an email marketing campaign or not, a blog is often an excellent place to direct people for passionate views on the product or for a centralised information source for a conference you are running, for example.

    f) Press Release
    You could also issue a Press Release outlining the fact that you have decided to create and develop a Blog and giving the reasons behind it and the benefits that your customers can expect to gain from it.

    g) Word of Mouth
    Dont forget the age old method of simply telling people about it!

    5. Whats next?
    We now have a Business Blog which should be being marketed and promoted to all of the relevant target audience that we identified when we planned the blog and hopefully even further afield.

    It is therefore an appropriate moment to look back and check that some of the key areas that we intended to put in place have not been overlooked, and to make sure that we have not committed some of the mistakes which can so often creep into blogs.

    This is what we will be looking in the next and penultimate part of the course.

    Link to Part 6 of the Better Business Blogging Course