Commercial insurance broker Simply Business is the UK’s largest online insurance broker. Launched in 2005, it currently insures over 20,000 SMEs and landlords. As well as offering advice to businesses on selecting the right insurance, Simply Business is also proactive about engaging with its customers. The company takes its social media presence seriously, and has amassed a strong social following rather atypical of its sector. Currently, the @simplybusiness Twitter account has more than 20,000 followers to whom it distributes a regular stream of content.
According to the annual Reputational Quotient survey from Harris Interactive, the insurance sector has one of the least positive reputations of all. Only 29% of respondents rate the overall reputation of the insurance sector positively, and it falls behind only tobacco and airlines as the most poorly favoured industries. Add to the mix a general perception of insurance as boring and tiresome, and the task of promoting and marketing an insurance broker website proves somewhat challenging.
Simply Business was struggling to achieve the desired number of visitors to its website and conversion rates were low. An existing marketing strategy which focused primarily on product advertising was quite clearly not delivering. More »
Launching a corporate blog from scratch can be a daunting business, particularly if you don’t have a large email list of customers and prospects to draw on. Competition is fierce and a brief online research of competitors’ blogs can shake even the most experienced marketers’ confidence.
How can we come up with compelling content? Once we do, how can we entice our target audience to bother reading it? When e-learning provider Articulate launched its Rapid E-Learning Blog , it attracted 6,312 subscribers in the 24 hours following launch, and a total of 8,500 were subscribed in less than one week. What did they do to get it so right, and how can one apply this learning to any blog strategy?
1. Develop concrete positioning
It’s absolutely essential to determine the precise position of your business blog within the market well before launching. Say, for example, that your company sells HR software. The goal for your blog may be to demonstrate the value of software as an HR efficiency tool, to offer useful content related to the HR sector or to position your executives as thought leaders. Whatever the exact purpose, the blog should always set out to offer value to existing and potential customers, while differentiating itself from competitors. We’ve yet to encounter a successful blog that sets out to directly sell its product or service.
2. Prepare content
Most businesses these days are curators of content to some extent, even if just on their own websites. Perhaps you publish white papers, host webinars with recognised industry leaders or produce a customer magazine. Chances are that you create email newsletters to keep customers and prospects up to date with products, offers and events.
Consider stockpiling a bank of cornerstone content to seduce first-time visitors to your site. The blog series offering informative, practical content is a tried and tested way to lure readers back for more. This five-part series on what to pack for a cruise from travel retailer Minimus is a perfect example of useful, targeted content. More »
Recent figures provided by the Content Marketing Association indicate that 73% of marketers are planning to increase or maintain content marketing budgets, and that current content marketing initiatives are expected to reach 70% of UK adults a month.
Obviously, with content marketing on such a rapid upward trajectory, this should be the perfect moment to ramp up your business blogging strategy. A blog can be the integral part of a content strategy providing a sound basis to ensure that your content marketing will be successful:
Promote branded content
Producing high quality and engaging content for your audience can be hard work so it makes sense to publish the content on a domain you control. A corporate blog, provides ownership of a brand’s marketing content whether that be white papers, ebooks, webinars, photographs or video.
Support the buying process
A blog is an ideal format for writing more in depth informative articles, providing information about a brand’s products or services and directing customers to your site. A blog post is more than an informational piece of thought provoking content, it can be an effective tool to build brand, and serve as an invitation for customers to engage with your company’s products and services.
Feed digital platforms
If you are creating great content, social media channels are ideal for generating activity and discussion around your brand. Ensure that the social sharing mechanisms are in place on your blog, encouraging readers to share your content with their friends. More »
Business blogging has its golden rules and arguably the chief of these is that you don’t treat your weekly updates as press-releases by any other name.
It’s tempting of course. Perhaps you’ve signed a contract with an important customer or you have a new and innovative product just about to launch. Marketing and your PR company have come up with a spanking new press release that everyone’s happy with, so why not just tweak it slightly and put it out as the latest entry in the corporate blog. What’s the harm?
Well for one thing, it would be the wrong horse for entirely the wrong course. Press releases are – almost by definition – fairly bland creations. Designed and assembled by committee, they are designed to convey factual information with a garnish of positive spin. If they contain quotes from a CEO, senior manager or customer you can be sure that the words will be carefully chosen and very often blandly innocuous.
A blog, on the other hand, tends to be lot more rough and ready. It might be an instant response to an event in the marketplace that week, some blue sky thinking on business strategy or even a wry reflection on the joys of returning from holiday to face an overflowing in tray. Whatever the subject, it should be instantly engaging and anything but bland.
Perhaps more importantly, using blog updates as an extension of the press office may break your trust with readers. Blogging is about building communities and those who read what you have to say on a regular basis will be doing so because they find it educational, insightful or amusing. Some will be relaxed about the occasional overt sales pitch, others may well be less tolerant. More »
What do the Technorati top ten blogs – Mashable, TechCrunch, Engadget & Gizmondo all have in common? Answer, they’re all run on the WordPress blogging platform.
We knew WordPress was popular and it is BlogStar’s blogging platform of choice, but the people over at Pingdom have taken the trouble to work out how many of the top 100 blogs use it, and tellingly, how that compares with three years ago.
The figures show that 48% of the top 100 now use WordPress compared to 32% three years ago. While there have been some new entrants – BlogSmith & Tumblr and some significant declines, Typepad, it’s clear that WordPress is set to dominate professional level blogging for some time to come.
We use WordPress for all the blogs we create for clients not just because it’s the biggest, but because we like its customisability, templates can be easily branded, it’s great for SEO, there are no end of plugins available and of course it’s open source, so the costs of development are containable.
A list of the top 100 blogs and the blogging platforms they use is available here on the on the Pingdom Blog.
If you’d like help with blog content or WordPress development, BlogStar would love to help.