Pool or spa businesses trying to reach out to customers without over spending can use blogging as a marketing and communications tool. In today’s technology-fuelled world, every business should have a web presence. Whether it is a website, blog, or Facebook page, new and existing customers should be able to learn about any business online.
Most small businesses have a basic website—essentially an online brochure for the company. These sites typically comprise a few pages about the business (e.g. company description, contact information, etc.); however, they usually lack additional content for current or potential customers.
A blog on the other hand, allows businesses to provide regularly updated content to visitors and customers. The blog should not focus solely on sale announcements or store hours, but rather real digestible information that will keep visitors on the website longer as well as returning more frequently.
What is a blog?
The word blog comes from web-log. Essentially, it is an online journal or diary. In the past, blogging was a way for Internet users to share thoughts and comments. Today, however, it is a common platform for businesses looking to provide content on their website. In fact, when it comes to Internet marketing, content is most important.
If a business has a great product, but provides terrible customer service, consumers will not shop there. It is no longer just about price, customers expect to walk into a business and come away with added value and service, not just a product.
The blog can become a place where customers can read new information about a business, gain expert advice, and interact with the employees who provide service and supply pool and spa products. The following are 10 reasons why a pool and/or spa business should not only have a website, but also a blog:
1. Improves an overall website
A simple website comprising only a few pages can become stale. Search engines prefer websites that grow and consistently provide new content. Also, the more relevant and updated the content is, the more visitors it will attract. By maintaining an active blog, each post becomes a separate web page that can be indexed by search engines.
For instance, if a blog includes a post titled ‘Opening your swimming pool in Ontario,’ it becomes an additional web page that search engines can find and present to users who are opening a swimming pool in Ontario.
2. Provide expert advice to existing and potential customers
Not only does blog posting present content to existing customers, it also provides the opportunity to attract new customers. The more content comprising topics that customers are looking for, the easier a website can be found by Internet users. This helps turn the website or blog into a customer magnet.
Further, by providing expert advice at store locations, businesses can become an authority on swimming pools and hot tubs. If a customer comes in for assistance and they receive helpful advice, they will gain trust in the business. The same concept can be applied online.
3. Update customers on new products
Having a blog is a great way to inform current customers about new products. If a post about a new product or service is included on an active blog, it can inform customers and eliminate the need for sending out promotional materials in the mail.
4. Announce big events
A blog can also be used to inform customers about upcoming events. For example, if a big outdoor sale or special promotion is being held, a press release can be posted. This will immediately notify readers about the event and why they should attend.
If possible, photos or videos of previous events should also be included on the blog to show readers what they can expect. Readers could also be encouraged to attend events with the inclusion of a special discount offer.
5. Make a business more transparent
This may be hard for some businesses to grasp, but customers feel comfortable buying from a business when it is honest about what goes on behind-the-scenes. Creating a blog is a great way to accomplish this.
By no means should a business give away trade secrets, but if an employee wins an award, the company has donated money to a charity, or a customer provided a great testimonial, it should be posted on the company’s blog.
6. Interact with customers outside store walls
Blogs also allow readers to leave comments on content made available on the Internet. This is a great way for businesses to communicate with customers visiting their websites and blogs. A post answering a customer’s question could generate further conversation after other readers provide comments on the same issue. Each time a reader leaves a comment, content is added to the website.
Companies should interact with customers via their blog as much as possible and respond quickly and thoroughly to customer inquiries to help create a strong relationship with the consumer.
7. Offer special discounts to readers
Instead of putting an ad in the local newspaper or sending promotional postcards to customers, special discounts can be posted on blogs. Readers will not only benefit from the written content, it will also bring them into a store by offering specials, which are not available to every customer.
8. Save money on marketing
Newspaper, radio, TV, and direct marketing promotional campaigns can be expensive; however, having a website/blog that drives traffic is affordable and provides long-lasting marketing for businesses and brands.
9. Provide better customer service
The truth is, when a website is used to interact with customers it also becomes a place where users can leave complaints. Perhaps a customer had a bad experience in a store, or was not satisfied with the service. Customer complaints are more likely to be made online than in person. The main reason for this is customers have anonymity online; therefore, it is easier to say mean things and complain when it is not done in person.
If this happens, it is a good chance to provide top-notch customer service and acknowledge something was done to resolve the issue. This will let others know the business is dedicated to taking care of its customers.
The negative occurrence of receiving complaints can actually be positive for businesses and brands if they are handled appropriately.
10. Make money
Blogging is not a fast means to increasing revenue as they take consistent effort to build and maintain. If a business starts blogging in the hopes that customers will start banging down the doors, unfortunately this will not be the case. However, blogging will pay off in the long run. The goal is to build an audience of loyal customers by constantly providing added value to the products and services already being offered.
Blogging also helps to increase website traffic from popular search engines and other websites, which might link to the content. This traffic will most likely be from new customers who can potentially become lifelong customers.
Businesses that provide value, customer service, and unrivaled expertise via its blog are better positioned to surpass the competition.
How to build a blog
There are several blogging platforms available online for free download. All that is needed is a web server (we recommend Bluehost for affordable hosting) and a domain name (e.g. www.mypoolstore.com—you can purchase a domain through Bluehost). Then, install the software and start blogging.
This article was written by Matt Giovanisci and originally appeared on Pool & Spa Marketing [link].