This peice was originally published in the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce newsletter.

The first post in this series outlined blogging as a general trend and discussed examples of how a blog could be used on a business web site. Blogs increase web traffic by adding the content customers are searching for to your site (mainly solutions to their problems). Blogs also increase web traffic by giving a reason for customers to visit your web site more often. More importantly than increasing traffic to your web site, blogs can enhance relationships with customers for minimal effort on the blogger’s part. 

A blog allows for commenting, which gives a customer a chance to ask questions and give feedback to a business. By being honest with customers, listening to their concerns, and responding timely in a public forum, bloggers can not only reach the one customer who commented but hundreds of potential customers as well. For example, if your blog discussed your business’s current renovations and apologized for order delays, a customer is more likely to be understanding. A blog puts a human face on your business in a way that’s hard to do online or even at a storefront. Customer comments also allow you to understand what the public likes and doesn’t like about your business, giving you a chance to improve.

Besides learning more from customers, blogs can help you promote what is going on in your business. You can use your business blog to talk about upcoming special events and promotions. A guest author coming to visit your bookstore, for example, may give the opportunity to not only talk about the upcoming visit but to review the author’s books or to talk about other recommended authors that you carry in your store.

The best thing about a blog is that whether you are techno savvy or not, you can maintain it. You don’t have to know about web design to have a blog; there are many free blogging services like Blogger and WordPress or you can have your webmaster design a blog to go with your business site. A blog is as easy as writing an email and you can add pictures and links like with email. The difference is you only have to write a blog once for many people to see it.

So consider blogging as a way to personalize your online presence and build relationships with customers. Check out the web sites of other businesses and see how they are using blogging. Talk to your webmaster about setting up a blog. If you decide to try one, commit to setting aside time at least once or twice a week to update it and do so religiously. The content you post should be easy to skim and free of grammar and spelling errors. Bold important words for easy skimming, include helpful links or ideas in bulleted lists, and write in an honest and polite manner. Take time to respond to comments personally. Tell everyone about your new blog. Over the course of six months, did your blog increase overall traffic to your web site? Did your sales increase? Have people been talking about it? These are all signs that blogging is working. You’ll only know if blogging is effective for your business if you try it. Whether you decide to continue it after the trial period or not, you’ll have learned a lot about the internet, your customers, and your business.

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