Traditionally, companies had personal relationships with their customers, but this gave way to cold and impersonal management information systems. In the last few years, with the growing competition, decreasing customer interaction and changing customer attitudes, businesses have begun to realize the importance of restoring a human face to their companies.
This is precisely the reason why so many companies these days establish an online presence. Out of all the marketing strategies available for businesses, blogging is being claimed as a paradigm shift in the way companies connect to existing as well as future customers. A cover story on an issue of BusinessWeek as far back as 2005 reads, “Blogs will change your business.”
Corporate blogs are created by companies to meet their goals and marketing objectives in the most efficient manner possible. Blogs allow the initiation of an ongoing and honest communication with the market, thus getting the customers involved and creating trust. The company enters into a conversation with an unlimited audience openly, in full view of everyone including its competitors. Companies can fulfill customer needs as opposed to hard selling, which is an indirect way of turning them into customers.
Corporate blogs are usually of two types: Internal and external. While internal blogs are those that are generally used by the employees to improve employee participation and discussion; external blogs are places where the company representatives post content and share their views with their audience.
Let’s look at what external corporate blogs offer companies:
Open Forum for Public Criticism
There are many corporate blogs that have high numbers of subscribers. For example, the official Google blog is among the top blogs worldwide. Corporate blogs provide a platform for people to discuss, applaud or criticize anything related to the company openly. This open nature of blogs gives visitors a secure feeling that there is no hidden agenda and they get what they see. Over a period of time, this builds trust and increases the number of potential customers.
Window to Company Culture and Policies
Although, a corporate blog tries to accomplish the same goals as press releases do, this is done in the most informal manner. This informal nature of the blogs allows companies to reveal the company culture and any changes in policies through their posts which are read by everyone that visits their blog. These messages also spread through word-of-mouth or through back linking which is an integral part of blogging, and ensures company news reaches far.
Feedback on Products and Services
Companies look to their audience to let them know their opinion on their products and services. Some companies develop product evangelists and give them a lot of importance. These people are asked to give feedback on product testing, the company’s marketing plans, customer services etc. Before launching new products, companies can find out exactly what their customers are looking, what they like and what they do not like. Blogging provides an accurate perception of customer needs. Blog conversations offer the same effect as ads or huge surveys, but without having to spend thousands of dollars needed for traditional methods.
Increased Customer Relations
The human face of a corporate blog adds a level of credibility that is often not possible using traditional marketing methods. The informality of a blog and the timeliness of information posted, help increase transparency and build up the corporate image. Customers love the interaction, which is on a much more personal level and helps nurture long-term relationships that every company longs for.
Build a Community Around Your Blog
People look for information on companies, their products or services, and nothing is appreciated more than getting it directly from the company itself. A corporate blog can, through the content posted attract future customers. The diverse input that is a result of inherent consumer involvement indicates trust and acts as the key to community participation. The growing visitors to a corporate blog, their comments and ideas, assist in forming a community that thrives and proves beneficial to the company monetarily and in other ways. Every bit of organizational news will echo throughout the blogosphere attracting a larger audience. Even years of traditional marketing may not yield such great results in the formation of a highly targeted community.
The Viral Effect of Blogs
Once you have developed a loyal base of customers through your customers, the viral effect takes over. Your existing visitors will bring many more to your blog, through track backs and back links. If a blogger likes the content of your blog, they will link back to you. This way, the visitors to their blog will be shown the way to your corporate blog.
These are just a few ways how corporate blogs help businesses build their image, brand, community and help them come up with better products and services. The perception of your brand increases multifold, giving you an edge over competition. Your company gains the benefit of public relations, customer relations, sales generation and every other marketing aspect that a business needs to be successful.