I constantly talk about the value of a business blog, whether I’m meeting people at a networking event or discussing a project with a client.
Yes, I make money by writing blog articles for companies that use their business blog as a strategic marketing tool. But I’m such a big believer in business blogging because of my own firsthand experiences.
My blog is the reason I was able to take my business full-time and keep it going for the past five years or so. It’s my biggest revenue generator.
Of course, you have to generate leads before you can generate revenue. And that’s what people want to know. How does a business blog generate leads?
I’m talking real leads, not coupon chasers.
Most people understand how traditional advertising, like print, radio and TV, generates leads. They understand how word-of-mouth referrals generate leads. They understand how search engine marketing generates leads. Sort of.
They might have a vague idea about the value of a business blog. But how do blog articles actually produce leads that turn into revenue and sustain your business?
Let me count (and explain) the ways.
1) They Read. They Trust. They Call or Refer.
This is the traditional way a business blog generates leads. It’s a long-term proposition.
You publish articles consistently. You deliver value consistently. You educate and position yourself as an expert in your field. You stay top-of-mind.
By doing this, you earn the trust and confidence of readers, whether they subscribe to your blog or follow you on social media.
You carve out a position in the reader’s brain as the go-to company for filling a specific need or solving a specific problem.
When they have a need for your product or service or know someone who does, they contact you or refer you.
I’ve had at least three subscribers to my blog (off the top of my head) hire me at more than a year after subscribing. They thought they might need a content writer at some point and eventually reached out to me when they were ready.
2) They Read Once. They Have an Immediate Need.
I always warn clients not to treat a blog article like an old-school newspaper ad. You don’t hit “publish” and expect your phone or inbox to be flooded with business leads.
That’s not how a blog is intended to work. But sometimes it does.
Occasionally, someone will read a blog article and contact you right away because they have an immediate need you can fill or problem you can solve.
Maybe they have a need and hadn’t started looking for a solution. Maybe it’s an ongoing need and they haven’t been able to find the right solution. Maybe your blog article opened their eyes to a need that they didn’t realize existed.
Regardless of the scenario, marketing works when you put the right information in front of the right people at the right time.
Blog articles are no exception. I’ve landed several solid clients, including my biggest, after they read a blog article I published on LinkedIn.
3) They Read. They Share. Someone Else Is Impressed.
When people share your blog articles on social media or by forwarding them via email, they introduce you to an entirely new audience.
Granted, not every person should be considered a lead at that point. However, some could become leads if they decide to subscribe to your blog or follow you on social media.
Or they could contact you right away if they have an immediate need.
It’s like getting a referral from a referral of a referral. Those deeper tiers of contacts can be extremely lucrative.
In these scenarios, your contacts are contributing to your lead generation – at no additional cost or effort by you.
4) They Search for the Specific Product or Service You Offer and Find You on Google.
Quick side note…
There are things you can do on the back end of your website to improve your search ranking. I won’t get into those here because it’s not my area of expertise.
But I do know that some businesses are still obsessed with trying to game the system.
My advice? Stop it.
Don’t try to trick Google’s algorithms. Hate to break it to you, but you’re not that smart.
And if you constantly try to “outgoogle” Google, you’ll have to constantly change your strategy when Google changes the rules. Which they do frequently.
Google had a core algorithm update in August that caused sites to drop in search rankings, leaving SEO folks scrambling to “fix” their websites.
In a recent Search Engine Journal article, we learned that, from Google’s perspective, it’s not about fixing specific issues. It’s about making your content more relevant.
Which brings us back to your business blog…
I can’t guarantee you the top spot on page one of Google. The only way to guarantee that position is to pay for the privilege. Anyone who says otherwise isn’t being honest with you.
However, people who are interested in buying the products and services you offer and search for them on Google will be much more likely to find you if you create and share relevant, valuable content.
And the easiest, most cost-effective way to add relevant, valuable content to your website is by publishing blog articles on a regular basis. Period.
5) They Search for a Long-Tail Keyword and Discover a Blog Article.
Most small business owners, especially in highly competitive fields, wouldn’t be able to get to the top of Google for generic keywords.
For example, if you search for “content writer” or “copywriter,” you won’t find my website.
But if you add “NJ” to both terms, you’ll find me on the first page of Google. My ranking for those more specific keywords gradually improved as I published blog articles consistently. It took time, but I got there.
And I generate business leads from Google because of it.
But Google can also help you generate unexpected leads from long-tail keywords that appear in your blog articles. You may not show up on the first page, but not all Google users stop searching when they reach the bottom of the first page.
I was recently contacted by a metal vocal coach (yup, really) in Colorado about writing website content. He wants to own his niche and double his prices, so he knew he needed to upgrade his content.
I asked how he found my friendly little content writing shop in New Jersey. He said he searched for “web content writer cost.” On the second or third page of search results, he found a blog article I had written about the cost of content writing – 5 ½ years earlier.
Two lessons here…
First, I wouldn’t have shown up anywhere in search results for that query if I hadn’t written that article.
Second, an investment I made 5 ½ years ago generated a business lead from the other side of the country that has now turned into a client.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever generated a business lead from a marketing or advertising investment you made – and finished paying for – years earlier.
6) Potential Strategic Business or Referral Partners Read, Then Contact You to Collaborate.
A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by a website developer who I met about seven years ago. She asked me to be the primary content writer for a new marketing agency that she and a colleague are launching.
We’ve always been connected through LinkedIn and Facebook. We’ve shared a handful of referrals over the years. But my blog is the main reason why I’ve stayed top-of-mind with her.
She sees my articles regularly. She subscribed to my blog. She finds value in what I have to say. Now she’s a strategic business partner.
I credit my blog for a bunch of connections I’ve made with website developers, graphic designers, social media consultants, video production companies and other providers of marketing services.
As potential strategic business and referral partners, all are solid business leads.
Maybe you’re an accountant looking to collaborate with business attorneys. Maybe you’re a business attorney looking to connect with commercial insurance providers. Maybe you’re a commercial insurance provider looking to network with professionals in a certain industry.
A business blog allows you to stay in front of your target audience without constantly meeting for coffee, going to networking events, or sending emails to “catch up.” Not that those things are bad, but blog articles help to keep you connected between those interactions so the relationship doesn’t fade.
7) The Thought Leadership You’ve Established Opens Doors.
The concept of thought leadership has become somewhat overused, but that’s partly because thought leadership is something that so many professionals want to be known for.
And it’s something that can be established through a business blog.
When I worked in radio, the CEO of a major radio company based here in New Jersey would publish a monthly blog article. Without fail, he was quoted each month in articles in radio industry trade publications. Very often, these publications would summarize and link to his articles in their email newsletters.
I’ve had clients who were invited to speak at an event and contribute articles to a newspaper. Another was contacted by a journalist to share their expertise on a topic that they discussed in a blog article.
These opportunities enable you to raise your profile as a professional and increase awareness of your brand. They also open doors to new audiences and new business leads.
The number and quality of lead-generating opportunities speak to the value of not only a business blog, but content marketing in general.
The business leads that come from blog articles and other content aren’t interacting with you because you sent them a coupon. They’re not doing it because they want to win a prize.
They’re interacting with you because you provided them with something of value. You educated them. You intrigued them. You made a connection. You showed that you’re more interested in the relationship than a transaction.
Be relevant. Be interesting. Be authentic. Be helpful. Be consistent. And your business blog will be a lead-generating machine.