Using Onsite Blogs on Your Business Website

On business, financial, retail, and professional service sites, a blog is something of a chameleon. In addition to the community-building function of a message board, a blog might take on characteristics of an online e-zine or newsletter.

You can use yours as an opportunity to educate your customer prospects on different aspects of your business or product while learning about their questions and concerns. For example, the business blog from Heronswood Nursery links to its parent site. By using this approach, the blog may help improve the search engine ranking for the main site.

Depending on your marketing strategy, you might prefer to host your blog elsewhere, such as Blogger.com, with its own domain name, so that links to your primary site come from another source. Google, in particular, ranks inbound links from blogs highly. Alternatively, you can host your blog elsewhere, but give it a subdomain name (yourblog.yoursite.com) and maintain graphical consistency.

Business marketers have discovered that an onsite blog allows creative opportunities to

  • Attract and retain traffic on a site

  • Obtain positive and negative feedback from customers

  • Generate links to other pages on the website

  • Announce new products and test price points

  • Build brand awareness

  • Recruit beta testers

  • Seed product promotions

  • Identify opinion setters

Like other forms of community building, blogs take lots of time. You need to post at least once a week to keep a blog lively and to encourage feedback, so having a blog is easier if you like to write.

Blogs can bite! Although blogs might be a great way to position yourself as an expert, they have a way of producing challenging feedback. You might want to monitor how people respond to your postings, but don’t become defensive if your customers — perhaps your competitors — make negative comments online.

Some companies, such as Comcast, now monitor not only their own blogs but also other blogs, message boards, and websites for customer complaints to try to defuse difficult situations and reduce bad publicity.

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