What if we told you that the most underestimated asset in your digital marketing arsenal was the blog on your website? Digital marketing professionals know that the corporate or brand blog is the most valuable communication tool available, but many businesses are not sure how to use the blog and optimize it for customer sourcing and sales conversions.

In this article, we’ll break down five manageable ways that SME’s and corporations can more effectively use their blog to create conversations with customers that convert.

 1. Provide Free Downloadable Content to Readers

While it seems like social media moves at the speed of light, with readers lightly skimming over content, when it comes to a free resource, online audiences love to download content. Why do you see so many business websites offering a free report, checklist or e-book on their website? Because it offers a powerful opportunity for them to grow their subscribers for email marketing campaigns

Getting someone to sign up to receive special offers or promotions is a hard sell; we all know what it feels like to be inundated with spam emails, and how aggravating they can be. However, consumers are willing to listen to a business who knows how to manage their email marketing if they find the content offers value to their lives.

The possibilities for downloadable content from a blog are limitless, but some ideas include:

  • A book of healthy recipes. New subscribers can get one new recipe a month by email. This is a common vertical used by food manufacturers, restaurants and condiment businesses.
  • A guide to fitness and weight loss, followed by exercise 30-day challenges delivered monthly by email.
  • A financial budget workbook, that walks someone through the steps needed to balance personal finances, with expert tips. This is a valuable vertical used by banks, private lending businesses, and even payday advance or microloan providers.

Building an iOS or Android app for your business, is not as expensive as it used to be. In fact, many third-party platform offer software that allow business owners to build from a template. If you are trying to funnel potential customers from your blog to become app subscribers, remember to include a sign-up widget on the landing page of your blog, and/or a video explaining the app and its benefit to your customers.

 2. User Generated Content and Contests

One of the most effective audience building strategies, is to encourage your customers to share their opinion of your product or service. User generated content rewards consumers for sharing testimonials about the impact that your product has had, and their experience with your brand. Getting people to share on social media and in public, takes a great incentive; which is why contests work.

For the most part, we want to deepen the relationship they have with their favorite brands. The products we choose on a weekly basis are part of our identity, and if a consumer is loyal to a brand (after using it for a long period of time), they are willing to share positive feedback, provided there is a chance that they will receive a bonus or special offer for doing so.

Stimulating user generated content doesn’t require million-dollar draws or expensive vacations, free cars or other pricey budget incentives. People love getting free things, as well as acknowledgement for their brand loyalty. Announce a contest in your blog, and place a widget to link customers to the landing page for contest entry. Consider a photo contest on Instagram, leveraging a unique hashtag, or a random draw to choose spectacular testimonials from your brand fans.

 3. Host a Livestream Video Webinar

People love to meet the staff and team behind the brands they love. That’s why a webinar is a great opportunity to talk directly to your existing customers, or convert people who are already interested in your goods or services. There are many affordable applications to host a livestream video conference, including Open Broadcaster , a free, open source platform that is easy to use for beginners.

How do you capture actionable data and assets from hosting a live video webinar? Create a landing page that links from your blog, to an RSVP page, and make registration mandatory before attending. This email registration will also allow you to send event reminders, and follow-up to the event, to help you transition attendees to social media followers, and email or newsletter subscribers.

4. Interesting Articles and Non-Proprietary Content

In one media study, it was estimated that the average consumer sees approximately 5,000 advertisements and proprietary content pieces (sales motivated) daily. When you consider the magnitude of advertisers trying to get the attention of consumers, you can understand why readers have become picky, when it comes to choosing what they want to read, and what they discard or ignore online.

One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make on their blog, is focusing exclusively on advertorial content. If your business is constantly promoting sales, special offers, new products etc., how are you adding value to the average consumer? What reason are you giving them to bookmark your blog, or click on your articles from social media, and visit your site?

One of our favorite examples of diversified content is this blog, on a site that allows individuals to look up home values in a specific region. Rather than focusing exclusively on home values, the blog on the Arivify site is full of insights, free tips and advice for home buyers, sellers and investors who are looking to flip properties for profit. By diversifying their audience and providing actionable content on their blog, they have cultivated an online audience that relies on them for “all things real estate”.

 5. Keep It Consistent

Building an online audience takes time, and it’s important to realize that consistency is an important part of building blog traffic. Create a content calendar to ensure that you are adding at least one article a week of 300 words or more, for search engine optimization (Google and Bing indexing). But make sure that your blog doesn’t become a veritable ‘ghost town’, without new content being added regularly.

Remember that there is no shortage of websites and blogs that consumers have access too. An inactive blog loses value from a technical, SEO perspective, but it also loses any audience you have built over time. Keep content fresh, meaningful and keep it steadily flowing to build your lead funnel.

Author Bio:

Lori Wagoner is an independent content strategist who gives online marketing advice to small businesses. Lori has blogged at Tweak Your Biz, The Social Media Hat and many other business and tech blogs. You can reach her @LoriDWagoner on Twitter.