Some recent discussion on the MacSB discussion list prompted me to write a few words about the importance of blogging as a marketing tool.
I've mentioned blogging in previous posts here, and it came up as a marketing idea in a recent Mac SB thread. A couple of negatives suggested about blogging is your customers may not know what a blog is, or that your niche is so narrow that there isn't much you can post about regularly.
I believe that these negatives are far outweighed by the positive aspects of blogging. Especially when you consider that the potential audience for a company/product blog are not your current or potential customers (who would be wandering around on your website), but searchers — and, via extension — the search engines.
Let's look at this this way. People are out there, searching for what you have to offer. Perhaps most of them are using really obvious terms, and in your keyword research, you've made sure that your product's home page works in those terms into the <title> tag, the meta description, the <h1> and <h2> headings, and the rest of the body text. That's great, and this will help people find you who are using the obvious keywords for a search.
For instance, let's say you have an OCR application. You make sure to use terms like "OCR", "optical character recognition", and of course "Macintosh" and/or "Mac" and/or "Mac OS X".
But what about the other kinds of searchers — those who are looking to solve a more specific problem — maybe they have been using some software before but it isn't handling some documents with smudgy print, or they have some papers printed on colored paper and they are trying to figure out how to make that scannable, or they were given a PDF that is just an image scan and doesn't contain the words. I'm guessing that in cases like these, they are not going to be searching for "OCR Software Mac" on Google. Their searches will be more like "How can I scan text from colored paper."
This is where your blog can come in. If you write about interesting topics that are related to your application and the problems it solves, you are bound to catch some of those kinds of searchers. They will be coming in through the "back door" of your website, but they are on your website nevertheless, and from there they might become customer if you make it clear (say, on the sidebar) that you are selling the solution to their problem.
And, of course, if somebody does find your blog, either via the "front" or "back" doors, the wealth of helpful information you provide will add credibility as an expert in the domain at hand, which can be helpful in a potential customer's confidence of you.
By having a lot of relevant content on your website, you are also doing your entire website a favor, even if few people actually come upon your blog post. Having a blog means that your website is growing, with unique, topical content — and Google just loves websites like that. In most circumstances, bigger websites tend to rank in search engines better than small ones.
What can you blog about? Here are some suggestions:
- Highlight a specific feature of your application
- Look over some recently solved tech support cases and find cases where somebody had a problem and you were able to solve it
- Publicly answer a current issue that has come into your support system, and send a link to the person who brought up the issue
- Mention events and happenings going on in your application's industry (or the Mac software industry) that your readers (or potential searchers) might be interested in
- When you are getting close enough, start previewing features of your upcoming updates or new applications
- Highlight features found in the latest updates to your application
- Spotlight your users who have come up with cool or unusual ways to use your application
- Refer your readers to other products or techniques or ideas that are tangentially related to what your software does
- Talk about the past — the history of your application's field, or why the software is the way it is
- Post time-sensitive events like sales and bundles — don't worry that these links are ephemeral
- Link to, or embed, screencasts and videos related to your application, either produced in-house or created by one of your users.