1. Be Consistent.
Too many business operators launch a blog and then let it go after a while. Sure, the blog is still accessible online, but the last update was months ago. If you want a following of current and potential customers, then you need to operate your blog like your business by scheduling to publish new information. Just as you are predictable with your business, you need to be predictable with your online presence.
2. Gauge Your Customers.
Write about what your customers are interested in. That means spending some time with your Google Analytics and learning what terms they are searching for. Likely, a few articles stand out and are sending good traffic to your site. Cover the topics that customers seem to be most interested in. Include photos or a video to make a point. Write up a "how to" article to offer step-by-step guidance on how to get something done.
3. Tap The Industry.
Your industry covers topics that are important to your customers. For instance, if you operate a home improvement store, then your competitors such as the Home Depot and Lowe's are very much active working to draw in customers. Visit your competitor sites to find out what they're doing to bring customers in. You'll find videos, photos and project information, just the sort of inspiration you need for your own site.
4. Be Responsive And Proactive.
You have a choice whether to allow comments or not on your blog. Blocking comments means you won't get feedback while allowing comments will make it easier for your customers to engage you in a dialog. Sure, you will get the occasional negative comment, but why not turn that response around and make it positive? Work with other bloggers too, including people that want to provide a guest post in exchange for a link back to their site. You don't need to accept articles from competitors, but you can accept original work from people that have something of value to share with your readers.
5. Share Relevant News.
Perhaps your site is tied in with an industry that offers regular newsworthy information. Maybe your customers would not be interested in that news, unless it was brought to them in a very local, personal manner. For instance, you manage an auto parts store, you might share how a particular manufacturer's gas mileage estimates were off and offer comment about this problem. You might also tie in a few tips on how to get better gas mileage, i.e. keep tires properly inflated, driving under 65 mpg or other tips.
6. Maintain Your Focus.
Quite easily, you can be drawn into other conversations when you blog. Make a point to stick with the subject and write articles related only to your industry. Develop an editorial calendar and offer up a rich mix of articles related to your industry. Be relevant. Be consistent. Above all else be interesting. Make your blog a destination unto itself. If you serve up good information, you'll be doing more to market your business than any advertising campaign can possibly do.
If you have a talented employee with excellent writing skills, use this individual to contribute to your blog. She can schedule articles, solicit contributions from other bloggers and respond to comments. This person can also interact on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, acting as a de facto social media representative for your business. With a writing campaign in place, your blog can be positioned to rock your world or at least your slice of it.
John Shaker is a professional blogger that enjoys providing entrepreneurs with business advice. He writes for MergerPlace, a leading website for selling a business.