Using Blogs to Brand Yourself and Generate Leads – Custom Domains

April 17, 2008

If you (as an individual or freelance consultant) or your company is looking to set up a blog as a “marketing tool”, I encourage you to strongly consider tying that blog to your existing website or another domain that you own, rather than a third-party hosted subdomain (like http://ourblog.blogspot.com). Why?

  1. It looks more professional
  2. You maintain control over the asset (the domain) – you own it
  3. It ties in more directly with your existing website
  4. The SEO effect of inbound links to the blog can (if on the same domain) help all other pages on your site, and visa versa… rather than splitting your link juice.
  5. No reason not to

With that, I’ll share with you a brief dialog that prompted this post:

Client:

A colleague of mine owns a small software development company and I recently noticed that he has started the BLOG thing…

My Reply:

Blogs are nice tools and tie in nicely with SEO in that they

  1. attract links
  2. make adding and updating content easier and thus lead to more of it

However, I would have advised your colleague to tied his blog into his brand name – either at http://blog.companyname.com or a new domain like http://www.companyblog.com. This way he would “own” the domain.

Using your own domain with WP or Blogger is in fact very easy to do even while still using the convenience and ease-of-use of hosted platforms like Blogger or WordPress.com (as opposed to more full-version applications that you host on your own server like full-blown WordPress or TextPattern).

The key to online marketing success with blogs is two-fold (to over-simplify):

  1. you must stick with it
    a few posts a week for a long time. don’t burn out too fast. don’t expect overnight miracles.
  2. realize what a blog can and cannot do
    it helps build relationships with your market, and it can help position its authors as experts in a field. its NOT very successfully used as a direct sales or lead generation tool. if you position it as that you’ll be disappointed. its much more indirect, and often that’s hard for someone with a serious sales background to embrace.

I probably should have added “3. become part of the blogging community within your topic/niche by commenting on other blogs, issuing trackbacks, linking to other blogs when appropriate and sharing in the conversation”.

If you are going to half-ass it, a blog is probably just going to waste your time. If you are willing to dedicate some time to it though, it can be a very useful tool for highly qualified lead generation (directly – as you have branded yourself as an expert) and also will help with your site’s SEO efforts, which in turn further helps generate new leads. In this particular case, the client has a very good understanding of both the technical and softer-marketing aspects, and so it could be an excellent tool as part of their online marketing strategy.

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