Successful small businesses understand the importance of establishing a digital footprint. The reality is that now, more than ever, consumers are using their computers, tablets, and smartphones to find and analyze information before making a purchasing decision.
In fact, 27 percent of consumers reported looking online daily for information about local businesses – more than double what it was in 2017. For small businesses to thrive within the competitive landscape of local markets, they need to prioritize their digital marketing efforts.
While there is certainly value in building a digital footprint on external platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social channels, one of the best investments is to start blogging on your small business website.
What are the benefits of blogging for small businesses?
There are many benefits to investing in your small business blog. For one, it can help you position your business as a thought-leader within your industry. Additionally, your blog is open 24/7 and can continue to attract and convert customers long after you publish the content. Finally, it’s been statically proven that businesses with blogs perform better than businesses without blogs.
Below are some of the stats that support blogging for small businesses.
-Small businesses that blog generate 126 percent more leads than those that do not blog.
-81 percent of consumers in the United States trust information from blogs.
-Businesses that blog have 97 percent more inbound links and 434 percent more indexed pages.
In other words, your small business needs to publish content on its blog consistently.
However, before you start aimlessly publishing content to your blog, you need first to find and define your target audience.
Understanding your target audience is a critical component of an effective blogging strategy. Here are 3 tips for targeting the right audience on your small business blog.
Ask Yourself Some Questions
The goal of the blog is to attract visitors that could potentially benefit from your products or services. Therefore, the target audience of your blog typically mirrors the target audience of your business. You should be able to start defining your target audience by answer a few questions like:
What does your current client base look like? A great place to start with defining your target audience is to look at your current client makeup. While you might think you know your audience, if you analyze your current consumers, you will be able to craft your target audience based on concrete data.
What consumer problems does my business solve? If you can understand the issues that your clients face, it can help you publish articles that speak to those concerns and problems. Moreover, this can reveal your unique value proposition – which should be integrated into all your marketing messages, not just on the blog.
What action do you want this audience to take? Defining your audience is important, but you also should start to think about what action you want them to take once they land on your blog. Knowing the audience and their problems are critical, but you also need to think about what motivates them to act – after all, one of the main goals of your blog is to generate business.
Monitor Your Direct and Indirect Competition
When it comes to target market research, you can accomplish a lot by looking internally and analyzing your own customers – but, there is a wealth of information readily available from your direct and indirect competition.
Start by looking at your direct competition (similar businesses in your industry and market). If they have a blog, look at the topics of their content and the categories on their blog.
What posts get the most comments or social interactions? Keep track of the posts and themes that generate the most engagement, as those might be topics that you’ll want to prioritize.
You can also review their social media channels and look for trends in their followers and the types of content or topics that are the most popular. You might find that your competition gets a lot of engagement on Facebook, but not much on Twitter – this could indicate what social platform is most important to your target audience.
Don’t stop with your direct competition; monitor your indirect competition. When you are blogging, you’re not just competing for business; you’re competing for attention. Therefore, your indirect competition could include YouTube channels, podcasts, or other blogs that are taking the attention of your audience away from you.
Assessing your indirect competition can provide a completely new vantage point into the interest and activities of your target audience. You might discover a new way to engage your consumers that none of your direct competition has tried.
Use Primary Data to Understand Your Audience
Moving back to internal analysis, we can use primary research to pull information about your audience on a micro or macro level. If you haven’t yet, you need to set up Google Analytics on your website and business blog. This is a freemium tool from Google that provides comprehensive data about your website and its visitors.
Google Analytics is a powerful resource for researching your blog’s target audience. You can assess the age, gender, interest, and location of the visitors to your website and blog. You can also see what pages are frequented the most and other onsite engagement factors that can help you define your audience’s interests as it relates to your blog and business.
Other platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have audience insight tools that allow you to see demographic and interest data on your followers and those who engage with your brand on the respective platform. You can also collect audience data through a survey, questionnaire, or contest.
In other words, there is no shortage of opportunity to collect primary data about your target audience – it just takes time and effort.
What Comes After Defining the Target Audience
Defining the target audience for your small business blog is incredibly important – but, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The goal of this exercise of defining your target audience is meant to help you think critically about who you want and expect to see your blog content.
With those personas in mind, you will now need to start mapping out the rest of the blog strategy – the layout and theme, content topics, content execution process, and promotional tactics among other things.
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