In keeping with our Bree’s Trees website example from Step #1, let’s say Bree’s Trees has put a website together, carefully edited the content and product pages, and made sure every link on the site was in perfect working order. What’s next?
Step #2 Adding a Web Blog
A Blog is a place to make personal contact with your customers, attract new customers, and provide information about your business that wouldn’t necessarily seem appropriate on the website. If the website is your showroom, then a blog is where you might go to have coffee with your clients. It’s a relaxed atmosphere where questions can be asked and answered, ideas bandied about, and suggestions made.
Yes, Blogs can be time-consuming but they aren’t expensive. In fact, there are free blogs everywhere you look – Blogger, Jux, Blog.com, TypePad Micro, Tumblr – we recommend and use WordPress as it is by far (in our humble opinion) the most user friendly of the lot.
But whichever one you choose, the important thing is to keep it up. Keep it active. Keep it moving. For a business, a Blog provides an opportunity to chat with customers on a level that fits into your schedule, allowing you to edit as you speak, so your message is perfect and you never have that feeling of “oh, I should have said this…” at the end.
You set the topic, the tone, the rules. This is huge because it allows you to steer a customer towards exactly what you want them to see. And you don’t have to spend business hours answering those on-the-spot questions which can derail you from your daily path. Invite customers to leave questions on your Blog, in a comments section, and when you have the time, kick off your shoes, pour a cuppa, log in to your Blog and let loose your free advice.
You don’t need a lot of fancy widgets. Most Blogs offer a wide selection. You’ll want one that tracks the number of visitors your blog attracts but beyond that, widgets that announce which visitor is from which country, put your visitors on a global map or show world clocks are fun but not necessary. Picking widgets is really all about how geeky you want your blog to appear. Or how up to date. It’s all personal.
The important part is to connect with your customers. Blogs allow you to turn back the clock to the days of mom & pop shops where if you went to the local hardware store to buy a hammer, you could spend an hour chatting with the owner about the last footy game or debate using a roller and pan versus an airbrush painting system. But with Blogs, you do it in your own time so you never feel pressured. That’s the true beauty of the new Social Media – you can connect with people while fully managing your own time!
Blogs are also an excellent place to get honest feedback about your business. A customer might not feel comfortable relating a negative experience they’d had with an employee to a shop-owner in person, but might be tempted to pass incident details along in an anonymous comment on a Blog.
Blogs allow you to toss around new ideas about your business, (Hey, what do you guys think about our changing store hours to….), providing you with valuable feedback on your ideas before implementing them. That’s huge!
Blogs allow you to continually add new content which is incredibly important (1) to give your customers something new to see all the time, thus keeping them interested and focused on your business and (2) to garnering website hits as search engines like Google are always looking for new stuff – new stuff improves your search engine optimization which in turn helps get your site at the top of the heap. Considering how big the global internet heap is, on top is a great place to be!