Today, anyone with valuable, relevant content can attract an audience online. Blogging enables firms to become publishers by creating educational content that attracts and engages their audience while building trust and credibility in the process.

Having an active blog loaded with quality, original, thought leadership-oriented content should be a top priority in your marketing strategy. We’ve previously discussed the role of thought leadership in the B2B buyer’s journey—and blogging is one of the cornerstones of content marketing. Blogs provide an avenue for prospects to recognize your firm as a subject-matter expert, by providing them with information that they are looking for and/or find relevant to their business. Furthermore, blog content is viewed by 77% of B2B buyers during their purchasing process. Still not convinced that blogging is important for your business? Here are 7 compelling reasons why your company should be blogging.

1. Create value for your target audience

Content marketing is all about adding value by sharing relevant information that informs, educates and guides your prospects and clients. So by writing blog posts about topics that are relevant to your audience, you begin to provide value for them, as opposed to just talking about your firm and what you sell.

What are their pain points? What challenges do they face? What gaps in information are they lacking that your blog can fill? What problems can you help solve for them through blogging? If a prospect finds value in your blog posts, they are also likely to find value in your services as well.

2. Become an industry thought leader

Keeping your prospects engaged over a longer sales cycle is important to nurture the relationship. Blogging provides you with the opportunity to show that you’re an expert and thought leader in your industry by leveraging your technical staff as writers. Writing posts on topics relevant to your industry and providing valuable guidance and best practices gives you credibility as a company and positions you as a reliable resource for information. Your blog can become a go-to place to answer your prospects’ questions and concerns that are common in the industry and keep them connected to your brand for an extended period of time. You are helping your prospects learn something, while building thought leadership at the same time.

3. Differentiate yourself from the competition

While many companies engage in “me-too” marketing, focusing on features and benefits of their services, blogging provides an opportunity for you to differentiate your firm by showing instead of just saying. There are a growing number of firms with blogs on their website, but many are filled with the same old self-promotional, news-oriented content that everyone else publishes. But by providing educational and informative content that people find valuable and useful, you can set yourself apart from the rest of the “me-toos” in your industry. Instead of just telling your audience that you’re the expert, blogging allows you to actually demonstrate your expertise and knowledge.

4. Drive website traffic and improve SEO

One of the best ways to boost your website traffic and improve your SEO rankings is through blogging. According to Hubspot, companies that blog receive 55% more visitors, 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages on average. Blogging gives you something to talk about online and promote on your social media channels, it gives you more indexable pages for Google to serve up to visitors, and it provides you the best forum to create keyword-rich content and lots of it.

Your blog posts should contain keywords and phrases relevant to your industry. It is important to have these keywords in the headlines, image ALT tags and blog post URLs. By doing this, each blog post increases your chances of being found online through search engines, ultimately driving more traffic to your website. (For more helpful tips on optimizing your blog posts, read this article)

As more people view your blog posts, many begin to link to your pages on their own websites. This creates inbound links that give your company’s website authority with search engines and increases your referral traffic.

5. Keep your website fresh and create shareable content

As you write and share blog posts, you are increasing your firm’s content and keeping your website fresh and updated. Further, many blog posts can be repurposed into other forms of content, and vice versa. Each blog post should have share buttons to make them easily shareable on social media so you can further increase your reach to potential clients. It’s important to cross-promote your blog posts as much as possible in order to maximize its reach and influence and drive traffic to your website.

6. Attract prospects and generate leads

By providing valuable, relevant content, your blog attracts prospects and starts a relationship with them.  Every blog should include a simple subscribe form to capture “fans” and they should receive periodic email updates from the blog. Be sure to promote subscribing to your blog using intentionally placed calls-to-action (CTAs).

Premium content for lead generation such as an eBook or whitepaper can be promoted on your blog as well using strategically placed CTAs in posts or on the sidebar. Gate premium content behind a form on a landing page that requires the prospect to enter their name, email and company in exchange for the content. Now you have a prospect to begin a lead nurturing program with and can eventually convert some of these leads into customers.

7. Engage existing clients and create brand advocates

Blogging is certainly effective for attracting new prospects and generating leads, but it’s also useful for nurturing relationships with existing clients as well. Blogging is one component of the content marketing machine that is useful for continually engaging your clients after you’ve closed the deal. You can and should continue to show your knowledge and expertise and keep adding value to the relationship. Ultimately the goal is not only keeping your clients, but creating passionate brand advocates that generate positive word-of-mouth and sell for you.

No pain, no gain

Many firms struggle getting their blog of the ground or keeping it going. Some are reluctant to blog because they don’t know who will write it or they are unsure if they can maintain it. Blogging isn’t easy! In fact, regularly producing valuable, quality blog content can be challenging and difficult, especially if your firm is not committed to it. However, blogging (as these 7 reasons point out) should be an essential component of any online marketing strategy and is a huge opportunity to drive website traffic, build thought leadership and generate leads.

These are just a few of the many reasons why blogging should be a focal point of your digital and content marketing strategies. For more, check out 5 Steps to Build a Successful B2B Blogging Program, and our other articles on Content Marketing.