Is business blogging a part of your financial institution’s marketing strategy? If the answer is yes, continue reading to learn how to utilize this tactic to boost organic traffic. If the answer is no, keep reading to learn how blogging can help drive traffic to your website.
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The History of Blogging
The concept of blogging was introduced in 1994, when a college student wanted to publish his writing online. Justin Hall created a simple site that shared links and photos, and there we had it—the first “blog.” Blogging has developed into a popular hobby for many, acting as an outlet where one can exercise their love for writing, share thoughts and opinions, or raise awareness on specific topics of interest. Today, blogging is leveraged not only by individuals, but also by businesses.
What Is Business Blogging?
Business blogging is when a company shares posts focused on a topic related to its line of business—a marketing tactic that is both powerful and cost-effective. Business blogging is a great way to connect with your customers by sharing relevant, timely information that they’re interested in. For a financial institution, topics could include anything from types of loans to budgeting tips to savings advice and beyond.
What’s In It For You?
Think of your company’s business blog as a marketing channel. It’s a way to raise awareness and establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry. It’s also a way to drive more traffic to your website organically.
To keep it simple, organic traffic is unpaid traffic that comes from search engines. Let’s say you work for a credit union, and a potential member types the phrase, “credit unions versus banks,” into a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, and so forth). Almost immediately, that search engine returns thousands of results.
What you probably didn’t consider is what happened behind the scenes before those results populated: Each search engine has its own algorithm, which is a set of rules that determine which websites populate the search engine results page (SERP), and in what order. If a potential member types in, “credit unions near me,” you want to make sure your company’s website appears before your competitors in the results. This is exactly where the concept of business blogging comes into play.
Keep in mind, establishing an organic presence takes time and blogging is no exception. Starting a blog today won’t get you to the top of the SERP tomorrow—it’s going to take time to build up your subscriber base and keep up (or soar ahead) of your competition, especially if they’ve been blogging for a while. But the earlier you start your research, the better, which leads us to the next section.
Where Should You Start?
To start building your business blog, you’ll want to choose a platform. Popular platforms include HubSpot, WordPress, Wix, Blogger, Tumblr, and Medium, just to name a few. Look at cost, design, and features—ensuring the platform is flexible and can meet your changing business needs.
Next, it’s time to do some research. Start by creating your buyer personas. HubSpot defines a buyer persona as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” By defining your buyer personas, you’ll have a better understanding of what potential customers are interested in. To create your buyer personas, start by interviewing a handful of current customers. Ask them a variety of questions about their demographics, habits, pain points, wants, needs, and so on. You might come up with something along the lines of these examples:
- College Chris: Chris is 18 years old and in his first year of undergraduate studies. Chris is juggling two jobs and 15 credits while trying to make time for family and friends. Because he is paying for tuition himself, he is always looking for ways to save money. A website Chris frequently visits is StudentLoanHero.com.
- Homebuyer Holly: Holly is 27 years old and works for a software company in Michigan. With five years of savings under her belt, she is looking to purchase her first home in the next year. In her spare time, Holly enjoys the outdoors and watching HGTV.
- Retiree Richard: Richard is 58 years old and just a few years away from retirement. Richard has a wife, and he has three kids between the ages of 23 and 31. He is interested in wealth management topics, so that he can better plan for life after his career.
Once you’ve defined your buyer personas, you can use your learnings to research keywords. The topics and keywords that hold the most potential are those you should focus on first in your business blog.
Now, it’s time to write your content, and quality content at that. Statistica.com found that, as of October 2018, there are nearly 442 million blog accounts on Tumblr alone—that’s a lot of content. In order to build credibility and help your company’s website show up in search results, the content you’re putting out there has to be relevant, it has to be timely, and it has to be targeted.
It’s not enough to just write the blog, you should also promote it. You should have a good understanding of which social platforms your ideal customers (buyer personas) are using. Make sure you’re sharing the link to your blog on these platforms on optimal days during peak times.
To keep track of how your blogs are performing, there are a few key performance indicators you’ll want to keep an eye on:
- Visitors: The number of visitors will account for those who are actually reading your blog posts. You can look at overall blog visits for trend data. You can also look at individual post data to determine which blogs generated the most visits. Did a blog focused on wealth management resonate with your audience? What about the blog sharing tips on how to save money? Make note of high-performing posts, because these are the topics your buyer personas are interested in.
- Although visits can come from a variety of sources, such as direct traffic, social media, and paid search, your business blog will be a large source of organic traffic.
- Leads: Although generating leads isn’t the primary goal of your business blog, it should be one of them. Leads are visitors who took some type of action on your website. Let’s say you published a blog on mortgage loans, and the call-to-action (CTA) promoted a guide for first-time homebuyers. If the visitor clicks on the CTA and downloads that guide, they become a lead. Although there are a few more stages to becoming a customer, a lead is one step closer than a visitor.
- Subscribers: A subscriber is someone who signs up to get your blogs delivered straight to their inbox. These are the contacts you have gained trust from. They account for base readership and are likely to act as promoters via social media shares. Keep an eye on the subscriber rate, because this is a key indicator of how well your content is mapped to your buyer personas.
Grow Your Online Presence
If your financial institution’s marketing strategy isn’t paving the road for growth, it’s time to get on board with business blogging. As one of the most effective ways to boost organic traffic, it can help scale your business in more ways than one. The most obvious? More traffic means more conversion opportunity. By creating a catalog of helpful content, you can establish a presence online and assist potential customers in different stages of their buyer’s journey.Need some inspiration? Take a look at SpinWeb’s post on “Financial Institutions That Have Killer Blogs” for ideas on what’s working well for companies such as Mint, Elements Financial, and Betterment.