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Blogging for business is talked about all over the web and encouraged by most knowledgeable marketers today. Businesses of all sizes are able to leverage the power of the web to become a publisher, gain the attention of their audience and grow their business.
The main problem is that in today’s instant gratification society, blogging to grow your business takes time, commitment and patience to see results. With that in mind, we put together a case study for the “magic number” of blogging.
How long does your business need to be blogging before you will start to see a return on your investment?
How much of a commitment does it take for blogging to kick in as a true growth strategy for a business?
We chose our target number to be 50.
50 blog posts seemed like a nice round number and there was a rumor that 50 was the magic number for blogging.
This could be a simple assignment for an employee to complete by blogging once a week for a year or a daily task for two months. While patience is required to see results, we shifted the balance and went with a more aggressive business blogging effort to reach 50 blog posts in just 5 weeks. Two new articles were posted to TresnicMedia.com every day for 5 straight weeks.
However you decide to attack this effort, you have to understand that we are talking about creating content that people would actually want to read and find valuable. The cost of entry to content marketing is creating valuable content for your audience, from there it can be ramped up in frequency and quantity.
The results speak for themselves.
But don’t think it’s just about hitting the publish button and being done with it. This blogging case study is about more than writing, it’s about using your content assets to reach your audience. That means working on the promotion of your blog posts just as much as writing your blog posts.
The blog posts were produced at an average of an hour per article. In addition to the writing, traffic was driven to the site by sharing each article across multiple social platforms.
Once an article went live on the site, it would be shared via Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. It would also be saved to Delicious and StumbleUpon. Depending on the topic of the blog post, it would be shared in different, relevant LinkedIn Groups with a teaser description and a question to the audience about their experience or suggestions on the content of the article.
Website traffic increased immediately because of the social sharing. By creating discussions in the right online communities, visitors clicked through to read the articles and some shared them within their own social media circles, forming a small yet still “viral” effect of traffic.
The more comments around a certain discussion, the more people ended up seeing it, driving more traffic, creating more comments, and you can see the cycle that this produces.
Once more and more content was published to the site, the website traffic increased consistently as there were still people visiting the older posts from the forum discussions and new people visiting the new articles.
While all of the blog posts were shared via social media and in targeted online communities for an instant increase in website traffic, the amount of keywords that the site was ranking for continually increased as well (according to Google Webmasters). The amount of visitors driven to the site from Google search was growing in the background while we proactively drove traffic from other online channels.
The more posts being published meant the more content available to be found through search engines. It’s a logical progression and as you can see in this case study, there is a compound effect.
Because there was such a high frequency of new blog posts, Google was crawling the site at a more frequent rate. This meant that new blog posts were ranking much quicker. Search engine traffic from long tail keywords continues to grow, even after the aggressive blogging efforts have ended.
The only SEO efforts used in this case study were consistent blogging and using WordPress’s basic editor for optimizing the posts. Beside from having targeted keywords in mind when crafting the articles, there was no particular emphasis put on search rankings.
There was no “secret sauce” or background link building techniques actively being executed. We didn’t even use our standard, full content marketing approach (because all efforts were focused on creating quality blog posts in such a short amount of time).
Purely by publishing quality articles on the website and sharing them via different social media channels and online communities, we naturally climbed the search rankings for 496 different keywords (at the time of writing, according to Google Webmasters), which is about 470 more keywords than we were indexed for before this case study.
The search traffic has continued to increase since the blogging case study finished. As you can see in this graph, improved search rankings are a collateral benefit to blogging.
From nearly no search traffic before our blogging case study began, we have increased steadily over the last 3 months and are seeing the residual effects continue without much blogging since (and this is done purposely for another case study that is coming up).
Now that all traffic sources were not only consistently driving traffic, but were growing traffic, the blog was poised for it’s first real spike. And that came, coincidentally, on the “magic number”, blog post #50.
From start to finish, the 5 weeks of the blogging case study resulted in an increase of website visitors by 481% compared to the previous 5 weeks. A very impressive number by any standards, especially considering the short amount of time it happened in.
But although the blogging piece of the case study was completed, it turned out the traffic increase was only just beginning.
Post #50 was a wrap up article going over all the detailed numbers of this blogging case study. Because of the nature of the study and the dramatic increase in website traffic, the article gained popularity within the online marketing community very quickly.
Once again, the more people that read it, the more people shared it, the more people talked about it, the more people saw it…and the viral effect took off.
At the time of this writing, there are over 100 combined comments (not including “Likes”) in 3 or 4 different LinkedIn discussions around the article. LinkedIn doesn’t make it easy to keep track of these numbers, that I know of.
Once the Magic Blog Post caught fire, it started building more back links to the website because other people were talking about it on their own blogs. The article was shared around the web to people who were outside of the communities that we had actively been posting our article links to. And that’s when business started to feel the effect of a successful blogging strategy.
The phone started ringing. The emails started coming. LinkedIn messages continued.
Now that people have seen that the impact of blogging can be as great as 438% (as shown in blog post #50), they became true believers.
This business blogging case study proves that not only does blogging increase your website traffic, grow your online network, and improve your search rankings, but when you produce quality content that is geared toward your target audience, blogging can produce real business results by turning those visitors into leads for your company.
In addition to all of the positive effects that blogging has that are listed above, it has also cut down on our customer service time. Because we had produced so many practical articles, a lot of client questions that have come up are immediately directed to a blog post. Or better yet, responded to with a new blog post that will help other clients in the future and build trust and credibility with potential customers reading the blog.
Also keep in mind, client questions are like student questions in a classroom, if one of them has a question, most likely others have the same question. Then when you send out your monthly newsletter, you are providing value to your clients that they weren’t asking for but turns out they needed.
Happy customers equal a happy company.
Content marketing has been a growing buzzword over the last year and
will really take center stage here in 2013 (if it hasn’t fully done so already).
*Update December 2014: Content marketing definitely took center stage over the last two years, and this case study holds just as true today, if not more so, then it did when originally published in 2012.
Many more businesses will start realizing the importance of having a business blog and the value of producing and sharing useful content for customers.
This case study proves that there is real ROI to business blogging and if you don’t start taking advantage soon, your competitors may get too far ahead of you to be able to catch up.
Having a business blog is the first step and will be the hub of your online presence. In order for companies to continue to be successful (or become successful), they will need to embrace this shift in business marketing and embrace the fact that now everyone is a publisher.
Don’t get left behind and see your company go the way of Polaroid, who refused to embrace the evolution of cameras and went bankrupt.
If you’re ready to take your business in the right direction and get started with blogging and content marketing, we’re glad to talk with you about a strategic plan specifically tailored for your business.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation or call 973-813-7758.