The content team here have received a couple of pieces of good news recently.
Last week, this blog won the Digital and Tech category at the UK Blog Awards.
We’re also currently battling it out with Moz for top slot in Hubspot’s list of digital marketing blogs in the UK and Ireland.
So, I thought this would be a good time to share our thoughts on why businesses should blog.
If you need to make a case for a content budget, here’s some help…
Business blogging: the stats
- SEO: websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links. (source: Ignite Spot)
B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not. (Hubspot)
Marketers who have prioritised blogging are 13 times more likely to enjoy positive ROI. (Hubspot)
- Companies with 51-100 pages on their website generate 48% more traffic than those with 50 or fewer pages. (Hubspot)
The reason for this blog’s existence…
This blog was the brainchild of Chris Lake. He explains some of the reasons here:
We launched the blog in 2006, after deciding to divert a limited PR budget towards the hiring of full-time writer. We thought that it would be better to create our own content, rather than paying PRs to try to persuade journalists to write about us. PR is tough, and pull beats push, for all sorts of reasons.
The reasoning was that a blog provides a pull for an audience to keep coming back to the site on a regular basis, something which limited PR outreach would not have achieved.
Econsultancy’s brand is built on helping marketers understand and make use of the web, thereby making their jobs easier. For this, we have a range of great reports, training, events and other services.
However, the blog provides a means to tie all of this together. It’s about getting the brand known and providing articles which digital marketers will find useful, which will create informed debate and perhaps inspire people to investigate the site further. We cross-promote our paid content, but not too aggressively.
In that sense, we have been content marketing ever since the blog was launched, even if we and other people haven’t always called it that.
The business case for company blogging
Need to build a business case for you company blog?
Well, here are the many ways that blogging benefits Econsultancy…
The blog provides regular, unique and quality content, just what Google is looking for.
The key is to research and target keywords and phrases that we want to rank for, and use this information when planning and writing articles.
We don’t just write to tick off a whole bunch of keyword targets. The topics we write about are those we want to rank for, but it makes sense to ensure that the content, headlines and internal link strategy work towards this goal.
To this end, we track the rankings of our target keywords, and ensure that the pages that rank for our keywords point to the relevant parts of the site, or help to ensure higher rankings for our paid content.
If we know which pages rank for the terms we target, we know where to point internal links for maximum effect.
It’s also worth pointing out the value of a hub or ‘hero page’ strategy. While we don’t have hub pages for all of the topics we cover, we do try to link consistently to one or two pages on a given term.
This should produce steadier and more consistent search rankings.
While no business should bank everything on search, it is our biggest acquisition channel, and the blog is a massive part of this.
The SEO benefits the blog has brought means we haven’t had to retain a search agency, and nor have we spent considerable sums of money on paid search every month.
The content we produce on the blog underpins much of our social activity, and social has been integral to this blog’s growth.
Our social strategy is about more than just broadcasting blog posts, but the regular updates from the blog provide a compelling reason for people to follow us.
Social channels bring in a lot of traffic, although much of this is obscured in Google Analytics (filed under ‘Direct’).
Around a quarter to a third of our blog traffic comes in via the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
This isn’t necessarily easy to measure, but the larger audience that a blog can attract means that the name of Econsultancy is better known that it would otherwise be.
For example, something like three quarters of our total site traffic comes in through the blog.
Indeed, many people probably think that we’re just a blog, and may be less aware of our paid services, but only a small fraction of blog visitors need to buy a report or sign up for an event to make it worthwhile.
In addition, if you search for things like ‘ecommerce checkouts’, ‘SEO best practice’ or ‘digital marketing stats’, you’ll see results for Econsultancy.
This helps to establish the brand name as a source for this information.
The blog has helped to establish Econsultancy as an authority on digital marketing and ecommerce within the industry.
People look to our posts and research for tips and information, while the blog has also provided a platform for other experts in the industry through guest contributions.
Sharing of ideas
Ecommerce and digital marketing is constantly evolving, and there a very few right or wrong answers.
We aim to showcase what constitutes best practice at the time, as well as providing examples and inspiration for readers.
The blog is a great platform for discussion and sharing of ideas. We can think aloud, float ideas, or ask questions and find answers from some pretty smart digital marketers.
Tone of voice
This is another thing that is hard to measure, but I think it has been very important to us.
The blog and our social channels allow us to show a more casual tone of voice, and help to set us apart from more ‘stuffy’ competitors.
We know our stuff, and are endlessly fascinated by ecommerce and digital marketing, but it isn’t necessary to smother your content in buzzwords and pseudo-academic writing.
Our mission is to explain things in a way that people understand, and that is enjoyable to read.
This, I think, helps to make our content, and the company, much more approachable.
The blog content drives our Daily Pulse email, which has around 90,000 subscribers.
It’s a valuable source of traffic for the blog, and also provides a platform for us to raise awareness of reports and forthcoming events.
The reason people subscribe is to receive updates on our articles, so the blog feeds our email marketing strategy.
The blog, and the investment in full-time writers and editors to manage it (for this is the way to do it properly) has increased our traffic considerably.
Over the past 18 months, and despite a drop in traffic post-site relaunch, the blog averages just under 1m pageviews per month. Not bad for a niche B2B site.
And the proof that it works…
Our blog provides value to the business at large and we can prove it.
Some things I’ve mentioned, like brand awareness and authority, are not easily measurable but there are more solid returns.
We can attribute revenue directly to the blog, through various means. These include:
We send qualified traffic to our paid report, training, events and consultancy pages.
We track these in various ways through Google Analytics, and can quantify the amount of traffic we send to various pages, and track leads directly from blog posts.
For example, around 40% of all traffic to our reports pages comes via the blog.
Of course, we can’t track everything so the ‘real’ number is likely to be higher than we can track directly.
Acquisitions via SEO
The blog gives us visibility in Google, and organic traffic drives sales for us.
We can show the organic traffic that comes through the blog and ends up in a transacation, but we can also take credit for helping to give non-blog pages more visibility.
This is not the biggest deal for us, but it’s a nice extra to have. We have a few ads on the blog itself, as well as in our Daily Pulse emails.
Email is a valuable marketing channel, and our blog content drives the Daily Pulse email, which in turn drives sales and leads.
And for you…
The benefits from blogging may vary depending on your aims and the type of business.
It may be purely an exercise in brand awareness, a means to discuss ideas, or a more slick lead generation exercise.
What I hope we’ve shown is that blogging can benefit a business in a variety of ways. I should also add that it’s been a lot of fun working on it, and that is very important.