Sharing interesting and relevant information with clients and prospects can pique their interest in your services.
You may have read or heard “experts” explain the importance of blogging as part of your online marketing plan. You may be wondering, “what is a blog, and what will it do for me anyway?” It must be a common question, because a Google search of that keyword phrase reveals more than 2 million hits.
To clarify all things “blog” let’s start with a definition. The word “blog” is short for “web log.” Originally, a web log was an online diary or journal where a blogger recorded events, thoughts, opinions, and so on to share with others. Remember the TV show “Doogie Howser, M.D.?” Doogie ended each episode by writing in his electronic diary, making him one of the world’s first bloggers (fictionally, anyway).
Blogs have evolved since then. They can now refer to everything from an online diary, to news articles with an opinionated slant, to a section of a business’s website. The latter is what’s relevant to your online marketing strategy.
A blog can help you market your financial and insurance practice in a number of ways:
- Educate your target audience. Sharing interesting and relevant information with clients and prospects can pique their interest in your services. Your blog could cover topics such as retirement income planning, tax strategies, investment strategies, 401(k) information, etc.
- Establish your credentials. A blog can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise on these topics. This will instill confidence in your abilities and validate your clients’ decision to put their trust in you.
- Engage regularly and inexpensively. Providing frequent and relevant information helps you develop strong relationships with your clients and prospects without incurring the cost of traditional advertising methods.
- Optimize your website. Frequent articles provide a way to help people find your website when they contain the appropriate keywords. For example, people might search for the phrase “Should I buy an annuity” and find an article you wrote on that subject. After reading the blog, they might check out the rest of your site for more information.
- Grow your traffic: Your regular readers will share valuable content with their families, friends and acquaintances via social media and email.
When creating the blog section for your website, remember the following guidelines for success:
- Original Content. This is the tough part about making a blog effective. Thousands of blogs compete for readers’ attention, many focusing on financial and insurance matters. To attract and retain an audience, you need to give readers content they won’t easily find elsewhere. Research other blogs and look for ways to write something different. Then ask yourself what questions your target audience may have that you can answer. This way you can put your own unique spin on your articles.
- Friendly, yet professional tone. A business blog is not the place to write straight off the top of your head as you would in a diary. If you don’t consider yourself a talented writer, consider hiring a professional. You can easily find freelancers and pay them per article.
- Organize your blog by creating several categories. This allows users to find topics that interest them. An advisor might include topics such as Social Security, Medicare, Lifestyle, Budgeting, and so on.
- Integrate. Cross-promote your blogs on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Use pictures. People like content with visuals. In addition to photographs, consider using charts, graphs and tables. Infographics, in which the entire blog article is one large graphic, are also popular with online readers.
- Link to other websites. Providing valuable information sometimes means helping your readers find it elsewhere. You should also link to any articles you use as sources for your posts. Linking to other sites should be done sparingly, since the goal is to keep readers on your site as much as possible.
- Don’t forget Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Keywords are those that web users type into a search engine when they’re seeking information. Your blog needs to include multiple uses of keywords and phrases that your intended audience will use to search for information. To determine those keywords, think about the problem a particular article addresses. Maybe it’s “lifetime retirement income” or “when should I start drawing Social Security benefits?” Those are the words and phrases you need to incorporate into your blog posts.
- Write a good meta description (see my article on meta tags.) Having a concise meta description for your article will help search engines see your site faster and move you up in search results.
- Choose blog titles that will entice your audience to click and read the blog.
- Keep it short. Blog posts should range between 300 words and 500 words. Your readers should read your article in 1-2 minutes.
- Use bullet points. Organizing information in lists is much easier to read and will capture your readers’ attention better than long paragraphs.
Think of your blog as a tool. Tools can be used in a variety of ways. It’s what you hope to create with them that’s important. Your blog can be whatever you need it to be.
Need help starting a blog? CreativeOne’s Social Media Elite service can provide customized blog content to help drive traffic to your website. Call the CreativeOne sales team at 800.992.2642 to learn more.
FOR PRODUCER USE ONLY. NOT FOR USE WITH THE GENERAL PUBLIC. 13633 – 2014/8/18