Blogging is the number one social media activity that marketers say they plan to do more of in the immediate future (in the Social Media Marketing industry Report 2014 68% rank blogging as first choice for more investment). It tops Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, and is even more important in the B2B space (74% of B2B marketers ranking it no.1 vs 63% in B2C).

And so it should.

Which other single channel or platform can in one fell swoop engage new audiences, increase traffic to your website, boost your search rankings, position you as a thought leader, stimulate interaction, drive shares of your content, be an effective customer retention tool and result in increased ROI?

While seven platforms dominate the social media marketing space – Facebook being considered the most important, followed closely by Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn – only one can deliver all of the above for your brand. Your company blog. What’s more, a company blog is the very engine of social media marketing activity. Its content feeds your Facebook posts, your LinkedIn discussions and countless tweets and retweets.

The SMMI Report also reveals that the amount of blogging activity by organisations increases as those organisations become more experienced in social media marketing as a whole –71% of marketers with more than 5 years experience in this area regularly use the company blog as part of their strategy. A sure sign that blogging is working for them – and the best reason to increase the amount they use it.

So what can a blog do for your business?

If your organisation doesn’t have a blog, or you need some pointers on why you should increase your blogging activity, then here are 7 reasons why a company blog is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s essential .

1. Increased web traffic. Blogging brings more visitors to your website

Your blog is – or certainly should be – at the heart of your content marketing strategy. With the right content on your blog providing fodder for your social media posts, you can drive your social media audiences to the full story on your website. Do everything right once they’re there, and so begins a beautiful relationship. When the SMM Survey asked marketers about their content marketing plans, a huge 81% put an increase in original written content at the top of their list of must-haves.

2. Boosted search ranking. Blogging helps your website’s performance in search listings

Another reason why blogging increases web traffic. Search engines reward new web content – especially if it’s relevant new content. If they know your site is regularly updated, then you will be indexed more frequently. Do your research into the terms your audience is searching for and use this knowledge to ensure those key words and phrases appear in your blog – as well as to help determine the subject matter of the blogs themselves.

3. Lead generation. Blogging reaches and engages new audiences

With the right content and working in conjunction with social media and search engines, your blogs can reach and deliver a much wider audience to your website. But the right content is key. Your blog needs to be useful to them. Or entertaining. Or both. It needs to address the issues that are relevant to your audience, not just to you. They need a good reason to click through to your site, and, once there, a good reason to go a step further and leave you their details in return for an incentive. Having said that, your blog is also a great place to announce news, showcase new products and deliver brand messages. But keep these in proportion. Always put your customers’ needs before your own. Don’t forget to add share buttons so your blog can be shared to a wider audience still.

4. Expert status. Blogging positions you as an authority and a thought leader

With your homework done and the issues, interests and pain points of your customers and prospects identified, now you can help them by providing the information, knowledge or light relief that they need. It will prompt repeat visits, wider sharing, advocacy and enhanced reputation, so that when it comes to making a purchase, the decision to choose you over a competitor is an easy one.

5. Retention. Blogging helps retain and grow your existing audience

Establish your blog as a destination where your audience will find the information and help they need, and/or the entertainment they love and they will always have reasons to return. It’s your opportunity to weave in brand messages, cross –sell and upsell, reward and incentivise recommendation. If the decision-making process to purchase your product is a long one, then compelling blog content can build the confidence and strong relationships that are essential to make the sale.

6. Dialogue. Blogging encourages interaction from and amongst your audience

The worst type of reaction is no reaction! Invite participation from your audience. Take a stance. Be opinionated. Provoke a response. Ask them for their feedback, ask them to share, ask them for their data in return for an incentive, ask them to recommend you, ask them to buy! An engaged and involved audience is a more active and loyal one. It will also keep you up to date and in touch with changing customer needs and preferences.

7. ROI. Blogging increases sales

All of the above should put you in the best position possible to be the brand of choice when your customers and prospects are making their buying decisions. But if you want hard stats, it’s reported that 66% of organisations that blog weekly acquire new customers as a direct result. That figure jumps to 92% among companies that blog daily.

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