It's hard to believe that blogging has been at the centre of tech marketing efforts for well over a decade. The reasons for its success as a tool are obvious – blogging allows SME tech firms to regularly reach out to their customer base and other important audiences - demonstrating their expertise, and addressing customer pain points from the POV of their own solution. In addition, they greatly improve your SEO. As a by-product, it also allows you to build a good store of informative text which can be repurposed for many other marketing communications: features for trade media, bye-lined articles ditto, as a resource for journalists covering other company news, articles for your newsletters etc.
But who are they for? In general, the circulation and reach of the great majority of blogs is very limited for SME tech firms. But of course, addressing a general audience is not the purpose of your blog - when SMEs write a blog, they are really only addressing their own very specific audience, and this is achieved by harnessing your lists of contacts and prospects and using the blog to reach out to them directly, whether via email or through social media like your firm’s Twitter or Facebook pages, or via LinkedIn. By their nature, tech blogs are specialist, but so too is your audience, so if your in-house list is accurately compiled, your blog should be a very good fit, and levels of interest as demonstrated by the open rates of emails should be good as a consequence.
So your blog serves some pretty important marketing functions: providing a regular reason for meaningful outreach to your customers, prospects and stakeholders; addressing industry issues and pain points from your solutions’ pov; and more generally, constantly adding new traction for your web’s SEO.
Of course, all of this depends on your ability to write regularly on topics which are of interest your various audiences, be they customers, prospects, industry bodies, investors, government support agencies, skills pool, employees, etc. And for many SME firms, this is where the difficulty really lies – getting it written in the first place, and then keeping up the regular bulletins.
We are all familiar with websites that have 3 blog posts in quick succession on them, and then…nothing. In fact, it is sometimes possible to date when a new web project was started – fired with enthusiasm with their new blog for about a month- 3 quick blog posts within 3 weeks (shorter and shorter in terms of content) - and then finally...silence.
A good way way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you is to work about a quarter in advance and put a sort of 'features list' in place: identifying relevant industry topics and setting publication dates for each as part of your marketing activity focuses the mind. Make your blogs as regular as possible – about once a month is ideal, any more is getting a bit spammy.
The other trick is to make it someone’s assigned function to write/publish the blog. Many company blogs have a variety of authors, making them disjointed and hard to read – far better to have one person assigned to this function, thereby creating a recognisable ‘voice’ for your firm.
Once the blog is written, it is crucial to actively distribute it yourself. Waiting for people to visit your website to read your new blog off their own bat is unrealistic – it's never going to happen except maybe in the biggest of firms. So the onus is very much on you as an SME tech firm to distribute it yourself – remember, this is the blog’s chief function: as a marketing tool, reaching out to your key audiences and the wider industry. So: key contacts by email, LinkedIn, and other social media. It's a great means of regularly contacting your customers so make sure you send it out. Otherwise its just wasted effort.
Blogs are a brilliant communication tool, however it should be recognised that researching and writing them up isn’t for everyone, so if you need a hand, feel free to reach out.
(Pic: Reenroe Beach, Co. Kerry)