(1) Business blog intro:
Everyday we keep listening to the benefit stories brought by Web 2.0 technologies for individuals and commercial enterprises. Prominent use of Web 2.0 is restricted to Facebook, Company’s page on Facebook and Twitter.
As a matter of fact blogging is one of the greatest tools to exploit Web 2.0 potential. Still the number of bloggers is far smaller than the number of Facebook users or Twitter users. Even among the active blogs there is a considerable gap in the utility value especially in case of business blogs. The blogs created by companies are not rightly targeted to benefit the company. One of the reasons could be not having a right strategy relevant to the business objective. It could even be that the companies don’t have right expertise to strategize Web 2.0 tools for business gains. A rightly placed business blog in fact can drive business, develop customer relationship and bring pride to the company. A rightly placed blog can achieve any defined objective. This is in quite contrast to the websites and their service value [to the visitor or customer] which play a very limited role as a digital brochure and a little beyond that when integrated with social media channels. I am not citing here company’s portal applications that are designed in a more structured service model.
(2) Business blog model:
In the above context, I herein discuss a sample blog model designed by us targeting the marketing and customer support processes of an enterprise. Companies spend huge amounts on customer support. However, the repository base or information authenticity on the support matters has not been well placed to fully help the customer or company. This is very evident in case of mid size companies. Growth of business is largely hinged on the kind of transparency that a business can provide to its core stakeholders. Obscure policy provisions and hidden terms and conditions would only vent way to customers’ dissatisfaction in the long run. Blog is one such platform that can help you make your business transparent to the extent it helps you and your company. The blog design discussed herein is quite relevant in that context.
As aforementioned, I depicted herein in the embedded picture a marketing and customer support blog model which could be initiated by companies. The company may be engaged in service offerings or product offerings or even both. The blog model suggested here would help them equally competitive and relevant.
You may explore the elements of the picture in the post. The model depicted is an indicative with respect to its UI design. One can design it as creatively and as user friendly considering the element priority, navigational efficiency
(3) Business blog element description:
I have given the description for many of the blog elements in the picture. Let me briefly describe the elements that were not elaborated in the design picture.
Home: Here you can give link to your blog’s home page and if you like can also add link to your company website’s page.
Offerings: You may display here the list of products and services that your company deals with. Besides, you can add in the drop down menu items like (i) rate card or pricing (ii) sector specific product range (iii) product gallery link and any other important item relevant to your situation.
R&D: You may place a link here to your research facility information, research reports, white papers, industry reports, survey reports, IPRs you own, and so. The objective of this element is to educate your customers about your research facilities, researched facts and figures on the significance of product line you offer, technological relevance, future outlook, utility value to the consumer, and many related data. Your company must utilize this space effectively with transparent data on your product line to build confidence in the consumer.
Case studies: Depending upon the nature of products your company deals with, you should build real time case-studies on the product usage, pricing, benefits, ROI, and customer satisfaction. The data should be collected from the finished project that addressed a specific problem or requirement to construct related case studies. Case studies help future customers understand the product value, product fit to their requirement and other information envisaged in the case study.
Dealers: Let your customers know here your dealer network, agent network, franchisee network or associate network who sell your product(s), who service your products or who offer after-sales-support for your products. This even can be a link to your website element where you already have placed this data on your website.
Buy: If your blog has been rightly constructed and positioned you should see growing visitors to your blog in a maximum period of 6 months. Many casual visitors may read your product information, its reviews, case studies, support issues and may indulge in impulsive buying depending upon your product line. For example chocolates, gift items, men & women garments, travel packages, electronic gadgets, mobile phones, children toys, games, magazine subscriptions, and many other things could push the visitor to impulsive purchasing. The ‘buy’ element will truly help you build your sales. This again can be an exclusive element here or a link to your already existing shopping cart on your website or portal.
Downloads: This would be an important space for your customer where you can facilitate downloading tools, product literature, company’s presentation, coupons, evaluation copies of your product (if yours is a software product), as relevant to your product line.
Support: You may link this to an exclusive support page containing (i) customer log-in, (ii) FAQs, (iii) help documentation, (iv) customer feedback, (v) link to forum, (vi) link to live chat, (vii) service center addresses and more. Here, you can link to the relevant piece of information or page of your CRM application too.
Forum: The best way to enhance business is to allow customers share information among them about your product line, discuss their experiences about using your products, about their perceptions on your service efficiency, and even open criticism of your products. Forum is the best tool for all such interactions. So you may like to initiate this and even support this. If required, engage one of your loyal customer group on remuneration to manage and moderate this forum. Customers’ voice would be better heard here by you and even by your customers. It could be in the form reviews, technical discussions, and feature positioning or product evolution. This is one more space where you could gain great business advantage.
(4) Business blog what next:
If you have read till this I know you are a serious reader who probably likes to exploit blogging for your business growth. There are still things to be considered by you for your go-ahead. What are they?
(5) What should be the first step to start something similar to this?
If you already operate a blog check what are the various elements of this design that can fit in your case and update the same. Blog is something which should get updates like a news paper. You should give fresh content and great content.
If you want to start a fresh business blog with this design perspective go ahead and create a business blog with right keyword or company’s name. Go for a right theme and start working on the content. Consider further the following.
Technology: You can go for one of the CMS applications available in the market. Preferably go for a premium CMS theme so that you will get right updates and you can be better secured.
Content development and operational issues: Who will populate your blog with regular and right content? Who will attend to the maintenance activities? Who will moderate forums? Who is the blog admin? How many users are designated for blog update? Who is responsible to manage Live Chat? Who will qualify and approve placement of content on the blog? Where from you get inputs for your sales data? What is the source of analytics? What kinds of surveys are required to be initiated? What element of data could be fed into surveys form the already gathered survey data? Who will manage the social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and so? What are the naming conventions that you will go for in the whole scenario? Who are responsible for design creativity of everything you place? Who are going to oversee and analyze Google Web Analytics data of your business blog? Who is going to act on the required processes as prompted by web analytic data? What is the source for news, technology trends? Who will supply documents related to White papers, Case Studies and other research content? Who will manage support function? What are the tools to be shared? Who will oversee the possible percolation of IP violations? What is the frequency of update of various content and schedule related for your business blog?
The list is still incomplete. When you start thinking about this you would need to answer many such questions for a smooth post deployment operation of your business blog.
(6) Consider outsourcing technology and social media related issues for your business blog.
This is the right approach. You should preferably outsource the entire task to an external agency so that you can be guaranteed about its results under an SLA. Owing to natural constraints like employee leaving the organization, employee not able to take ownership, employee not being clarified much on the issues, or work slow down due to hierarchical issues may suffer the project when managed by employees. Thus outsourcing would be a right choice.
(7) What you should consider during outsourcing of business blog?
Issues related to IP violations, technology map, security, performance, backup and disaster recovery, blog up-time, content quality, content abuse, performance metrics, deliverables from your side and service provider side, adherence to regular schedules….. You need to get answers for all these and many other regular aspects from your service provider to whom you outsource your business blog.
I just tried to draw my view of business blog design for marketing and customer support. You may need to customize this for your situation. You are free to interact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your queries.
If you are a blogger reading this may submit your blog to blog directory blogbee.in.