We live in the age of Social Media when most people consume what I like to call fast content. Literally, I am talking about the content that is easy to scroll down on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (or any other present or future social media platform), and in just a few minutes you feel like you’ve read it all, seen it all. What about the more traditional long forms of content? Can they still be a good choice for marketing in 2021?
Well, with this article, I will try to answer these questions and at the same time, take a quick look at why blogging and written content combined with visual content can get you a long way in your marketing efforts.
Is blogging still a thing in 2021?
I will be quite firm on this; my final answer is Yes with a capital letter. Even though people consume fast content more than ever, they are still reading. And most of the marketers know this. But, let’s not start with this. Let’s start by remembering the old ways of doing marketing and advertising. Let’s start by remembering all those shiny banners that took most of a web page’s space a few years ago. And then, acknowledge why ad-blocks were invented in the first place.
Did you know that the number of ad block users grew exponentially during the past few years?
The latest stats from Statista inform us that there were no less than 763.51 million users of ad blockers in 2019 only.
What do these numbers say? Well, they say one thing only: people are tired of traditional banners. Instead, they want to see the content. That’s their main reason for accessing a web page and they acted accordingly.
Besides this fact, we also learn that no less than 77% of internet users read blogs.
It’s no surprise then that 74% of B2B marketers say they have used or developed long-form content lately to amp up their marketing strategies.
If you are not yet decided and still not convinced, let me tell you three more things. According to HubSpot, companies that publish 16 or more blog posts per month generate 4.5X more leads than those that publish 4 posts or less. At the same time, blogging influences 6% of eCommerce sales and doubles to 12% for businesses that blog regularly.
Last but not least, there’s another interesting statistic that comes from Oberlo. According to one of their latest posts, 86% of content marketers use blog posts as part of their content marketing strategy. This is huge and at the same time quite effective in answering the main question: “Should I still use blogging in 2021?”
Now, that we’ve settled the problem of should I, let’s take a quick look at the why issue. Therefore, why should one create and use a blog for marketing purposes?
Reason 1: You own the traffic
The main problem with social media and other similar channels is that nothing you post on them belongs to you. And, sometimes, due to changes in the terms of service, changes in features or scripts, you might get to the point that you don’t even own your strategy.
Everything you do, everything you write and post on a personal blog belongs to you. Moreover, you can create your strategy, stick to it and be confident that whatever happens, you can go on as you have planned it from the beginning.
What’s maybe even more important with a dedicated blog is the traffic. You own it. And, there are two ways of taking it to your advantage:
a. Textual search
People are still searching for things online. They have questions, they need answers, you need to make sure you can provide them to the audience.
However, when people are searching for something online, it depends on your blog topics and how optimized your website is or whether or not they will land on one of your pages. That’s why I love the idea to crowdsource your keyword research. You create a scenario in a search query that poses a question. You ask your friends, family, and colleagues that will help you provide the kind of answer they expect to get when searching for a solution.
But, as soon as they do, providing you have what they are looking for, you get the traffic. And at the same time, you own it. You get them in your backyard, as you might say it and this is a major benefit for your marketing strategy since you can create the basis of a captive audience that may turn into a community of followers and fans.
There are three major things to take into consideration here:
- Links from reputable websites
- Great selection of keywords
- Valuable and informative content
b. Analytic tools
We’ve settled the fact that you own the traffic through great articles and valuable backlinks. However, when you own a personal blog, there’s one more thing we need to take into consideration. I am talking about analytics.
Analytics tools available for websites are far better than those available for social media pages and accounts. Since you host your own website, you own everything related to it including the traffic which you can analyze from all points of view that matter to your marketing campaign.
There are several tools you can use for this, starting with Google Analytics and up to Fathom Analytics and the like. Choose what’s best for you and dive into unique and powerful metrics that will help you get the most out of your strategy with minimal investment in time.
Reason 2: You own the narrative
Storytelling is essential nowadays. You can do it wherever you want, the way you want, without any restrictions on topic, content, or visual imagery. However, there’s a lot more to storytelling than just the things I have already listed above. And, sometimes, you can add a lot more to a story via design and visual styles, two of the most important aspects of marketing that are a little bit out of reach on proprietary channels.
Yes, you can add your headers on social media and sometimes your own profile pictures but you will never be able to change the entire set of styles and colors and adapt them to your marketing plan and strategy. You can brand and rebrand a personal blog, however, as many times as you want and the way you want with minimal efforts and virtually no costs.
And, if your budget is limited and you are not an expert in website design or web development, you can use website builders such as Zyro, or Ghost, to create the visual image of your brand just the way you imagined it in the first place.
Or, just as good, you can browse the competitions’ websites and analyze why they are where they are, what makes them good, take notice of their choices and learn to better them.
Of course, everything is possible as long as you buy a domain name and acquire the services of web hosting such as GoDaddy or Google Domains. But before you start buying your own domain and hosting services I’m recommending you to do your own research and find the best solution for you.
Owning a website/blog gives you the liberty to tell your story the way you want, without any restrictions other than your own values.
Thus, you can either choose to be very opinionated like Signalvnoise or marketing niched, like Ahrefs, and give your community the information they are already searching for, on your own branded corporate platform.
Reason 3: You own your marketing
We’ve talked so far about the benefits of having a dedicated blog and at the same time the benefits of owning the platform and the narrative. Don’t forget, however, that there’s one more thing we need to discuss here and that is all about owning the marketing strategy. Your own marketing strategy.
How can we translate her success into content marketing?
a. Build an audience
There are several types of audiences you can build your strategy around. What matters in this context and what you cannot attract via social media is the passive audience who mostly thrives on consuming passive content.
A personal blog allows you to do that.
To write and post content that is not prone to a limited timeline. It allows you to create and post content that will always be there, available to the reader, through textual searches or direct access, no matter what.
b. Optimize when in need
Owning the narrative and the audience allows you to be always prepared when it comes to staying on top of the competition by being able to optimize your marketing plan as you go.
There’s a three-step process here and it goes in circles from the start to the end of each of your campaigns:
- produce content
- analyze analytics data
- adapt your strategy to match the analysis
c. Useful for repurposing
Repurposing content is one of the best aces a marketer keeps under their sleeve. It means that you can actually take bits and pieces of old content and rewrite or update it in order to make it appealing again to the present audience with minimal effort and literally no costs other than a few minutes of concentration.
A great example of repurposing old content comes from Copyblogger. Their team is highly valued for their great pieces of content on the subjects of copywriting and content marketing. They are also known for their successes in repurposing the old articles.
Thus, they took a blog post, “The 3-Step Journey of A Remarkable Piece of Content” and turn it into a SlideShare presentation that has earned almost 100k views up to date.
Owning a blog was and still is a good choice when it comes to marketing, especially content marketing. Yes, you can still use the social media channels and I will always encourage my audience to do so but at the same time, I advise you to not stick to it only.
Buy a domain name, choose a hosting service, start writing and producing valuable content. Have a blog, commit to seeing it grow, and own the content, the audience, and the marketing strategy.
Do you still use blogs as a content marketing platform? To what extent and how successful you deemed them to be in today’s social media-dominated world?