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Common Marketing Questions: Do People Read Blogs?

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Did you ever notice how many times we use words that don't really mean what we're saying? Out-of-date sayings like dial a phone number, when phones don't have dials anymore. Tape a TV show, when you're really recording a file on a DVR. Or roll up a car window, when you're just pushing a power button to move it up or down. 

The evolution of language is funny, but it can also be misleading. Take, for example, business blogs. They are the driving force of inbound marketing, a key way to create content that gets discovered online by prospective customers. But their name (and history) is misleading, and leads to the common marketing question — do people read blogs?

Blogs, in case you forgot, started as web logs, those highly personal web journals that were often written by teens and twentysomethings, often in their parents' basements. Along the way, marketers started using the same platforms (and name) for stories about their businesses and organizations. We could have called business blogs "customized web articles to answer searched questions," or "well-targeted articles to help get your business found on the internet," but we didn't (for obvious reasons), and now there's all kinds of confusion about their purpose and value.

Maybe that's why even seasoned marketers have been known to wonder whether people really reads blogs. Fortunately, though, the data says they do.

For starters, let's look at the statistics from WordPress, the most popular blogging platform (which is actually two sites, WordPress.org and WordPress.com).

The most recent numbers (June 2016) show 59.3 million new blog posts on WordPress each month and 22.3 billion blog views. That's a lot of traffic, and it doesn't even take into account personal blogs on sites like Tumblr and Medium, or business blogs posted on HubSpot, the marketing platform we use for our clients

But smart marketers aren't concerned about quantity. They're worried about quality. And business blogging has that, as well. It's all about your execution.

So, before I share those stats, let's review the purpose of a business blog. A blog is one of the easiest ways to create customized content for your website to reach your target customers. After all, if you know what those people are searching for online (and that's exactly where they're looking for information), you can create relevant content (a blog) that answers the questions they are asking (the keywords that you write about), and suddenly they find you online. Better yet, if those answers are useful, they don't just find you, they start to trust you.

I tell our clients to picture the questions their ideal customers are asking Dr. Google. You know, what they're typing into the Google search box. It's usually the high-level questions marketers often overlook (or sometimes don't want to answer) — what is the recovery time of procedure A, how can you save money when buying a B, or when should you buy a C? Think of the things you search for before you ever decide what or where to buy.

I don't expect you to give away your secret sauce in the middle of a 500-1000 word post, but a little bit of real, helpful information can go a long way. You can start by writing posts about some of your legitimate (rather than marketing-centric) Frequently Asked Questions. And, since the best blogs are really more like the articles journalists write than old-fashioned marketing, use the journalist's Five W's as your guide: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

But does that kind of blogging work? These are the numbers that really matter:

So, the next time you're slaving over a business blog around midnight and wondering if it's worth it — or if you're one of those skeptical marketers or business owners who still don't think this inbound marketing stuff really works — take another look at these numbers.

Smart marketers really are using blogs to leverage the interest of prospective customers and the accessibility of the internet to create a match made...in the Google search box. 

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