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FORUM INSIGHT: Make your company blog work harder

There’s no sadder sight than a neglected company blog.

The chances are you’ve invested a fair bit of money in your website, which is probably the main channel through which to present your company to potential and existing customers outside of face-to-face meetings.

And if that’s the case, you’ve probably spent a fair bit of time setting up social media channels, and have maybe even paid someone to manage those for you.

First impressions last and your blog is the perfect tool with which to keep those channels fed and your website looking fresh and up to date.

But like New Year resolutions and Arsenal FC post-Christmas, it’s very easy to lose momentum after those initial earnest posts.

The main consideration when trying to keep a company blog updated is time, or the lack of it. Quickly followed by the need for inspiration. Both are easily addressed.

If you’re already paying someone to manage your social media, speak to them about taking on blog duties too. If you’re using an external creative agency the chances are they will be able to help too.

Internal solutions are also easily happened by. That new marketing intern is probably desperate to get his or her name up in lights and should be eager to prove their worth through blogging duties. Failing that, ask around – offices are often full of hidden talents waiting to be released.

Once you have the resource, it’s time to think about the content. The task of conjuring up appropriate subject matter can be a little intimidating, but it needn’t be.

A good place to start is drilling down into your product line – what do you sell? How were those products created? Look at mini FAQs, staff profiles, product announcements and commentary on industry news that affect your business. Does BREXIT have implications in your market? Tell your audience why.

To keep organised, draw up a simple content calendar, containing subjects, publication dates and responsibilities to keep things on track.

And the more content you post, the better it is for SEO too. Search engines will see that your site is being maintained and kept fresh, and that will score you brownie points against competitors in the rankings wars.

Plus, as alluded to earlier, the great thing about blog content is that it will feed your social media channels, which can also become neglected quite quickly. Each blog you post should be shared on LinkedIn – via employee profiles and your company’s own page – Twitter and Facebook.

All all three platforms you can then increase your reach if you pay to ‘boost’ posts to reach specific demographics. But more on that anon.

So, brush those cobwebs off your CMS and start posting – the world of content marketing awaits…

Forum Insight: Customer engagement methods to maintain strong relationships…

Now more than ever, customer communication methods are becoming varied and diverse. Trade exhibitions, social media platforms, focus groups and surveys, personalised email campaigns – the list is endless. But which methods will prove to be the most effective for your business? Before investing too much time and effort into just one, think carefully about all available options, and ask your customers how they prefer to be contacted…

Keep track of emails: Make it your personal – and even company – goal to respond to all customer emails within a five minute time frame. Not only will it generate appreciative responses, people love fast and efficient customer service, and this level of service will lead to an abundance of recommendations and increased trade. Need more convincing? View Eptica’s ‘Email Management’ article here.

Be active on social media: By now you’re probably tired of the constant emphasis on regular social media use, but inevitably, one of the best ways to connect with customers is through social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The good thing about social media is there is no time schedule to follow – you can reach customers at any time of the day. Use your company’s Facebook fan page or Twitter account to engage your followers and keep conversations flowing. Nowadays, social media has been incorporated as a form of customer service, so make your platforms adaptable for staff members to handle customer questions and complaints. Read through Conversocial’s case studies for influential insight.

Answer the phone: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! No matter what industry, a significant focus seems to be on new customer channel developments. But whatever happened to the traditional phone conversation? Whether you’re following up, apologising for something that went amiss, or wondering why you haven’t received an order in a while, there’s no better way to strengthen a customer relationship. According to eConsultancy, customers prefer assistance over the phone (61 per cent), followed by email (60 per cent); Live Chat (57 per cent); online knowledge base (51 per cent) and “click-to-call” support automation, (34 per cent).

Start a weekly blog: Why not create a weekly blog to keep your customers up-to-date? If you actively keep up a quality blog, not only will your customers read your blog, but they will respond to your blog. This creates a positive flow of communication and helps build customer loyalty. Find inspiration from these companies that have made blogging a ‘top priority’.

Conduct market research: Surveys allow businesses to identify customer needs. Once acknowledged, companies can steer their offerings towards filling these needs. Surveys are also a good tool to bring in prospective customers who are on the fence about a product/service, i.e. surveys can be used as a platform for prospective customers to voice their needs. Confused about whether to conduct quantitative or qualitative research? Learn more about the differences here.