Is Blogging Dead?
We understand the irony of writing a blog called 'Is Blogging Dead?'. If it is, then maybe this is the last nail in its coffin but, SPOILER ALERT, it isn't. That's just our catchy headline to make you read it and look, you're here.... reading it!
Here at CubeSquared Digital, we're huge advocates of blogging as a digital marketing medium. We publish new blogs on our website every week all designed to help small businesses succeed in the digital space, whether you're a client of ours or not.
We also encourage our clients to have a blog on the websites we develop for them, so why are we suggesting that blogs are dying? Good point.
What this post is really all about is, now that we're deep into 2023, asking whether blogging when used as a digital marketing channel is still as effective as it was in the past. Let's see.
Whilst blogging has been a staple of digital marketing and the online world in general since the beginning, in recent years it has found its place and its impact challenged by other new channels.
The rise of instantly-accessible social media platforms, long- and short-form video content and the popularity of podcasting, to name but three, has meant that, for many people, blogging has become less relevant and less attractive as a medium.
It's easy to think that, but the virtual world, like the real world, comes in phases. What was once on top of the tree and the 'in thing' will eventually be an 'also ran'. For every TikTok, there's a MySpace.
We also now have a cancel culture and a shorter attention span, which often means that as one thing becomes our latest obsession, we quickly predict the death of another.
People thought the internet would kill the print media industry and whilst they've had an impact, you can still buy a newspaper and magazine quite easily. So whilst we now have YouTube, TikTok and BeReal, 'old-fashioned' blogging hasn't gone away.
Blogging isn't just about pouring out all your passion, hate, expertise or nonsense online. In terms of digital marketing, blogs are incredibly useful when it comes to lead generation, driving traffic, accelerating sales, building brand awareness and of course, search engine optimisation.
While blogs are consistantly popular with digital marketers, they're also still the lifeblood of our online lives.
Of the 1.9 BILLION websites available, around 600 million of them are blogs (or have blogs within them) with around 60% of the online population reading a blog at least once a week. There are also around 6 million new blog posts published every day, so it's unlikely we're going to run out of content anytime soon. Granted not all of them are as good as this one, but still. 😜
So if blogs are so popular, why are we sounding their death knell? Well.....if you look at Google Trends, which analyses the popularity of search queries across various regions and languages, you'll see that, since 2004, interest in blogging has been steadily declining. In that same time period, interest in video has risen and is now almost on par and, many predict, will soon surpass it.
So if that's the past, what does the future hold?
THE EVOLUTION OF BLOGGING
As we've just seen, blogging has been a cornerstone of the online world for decades but, over time, the blogging landscape has evolved. It's also true that how blogging should be utilised has changed. In 2023, just having a well-written blog on your website simply isn't enough anymore.
If you have a blog then you need to be creating content for it. Moreso, you need to be creating consistent content regularly that's more valuable to your readers than that of your competition.
Not only that, but you need to ensure, once you've published it, that you distribute it well and promote it effectively so it gets seen by an audience.
You also have to think about SEO so that it ranks well with search engines. Blogging is more than just writing some cohesive words, it has its own ecosystem that needs to be tended to.
Not only has the blogging landscape evolved, but so too have those who read them.
As people become more aware of brands and businesses in general, those reading blogs are paying closer attention to the company or person behind the blog. This means that transparency is increasingly important to them.
Not only will they want to read and enjoy your content, but they'll also want to know who you are as a brand, what you stand for, what your values are and they'll want to buy into your ethos. They want to understand your stance on social, environmental and cultural issues to ensure it aligns with their own.
Not only that, as blogging is an incredibly competitive field, you also have to think about how people will see your business compared to your competitors, based on the expertise demonstrated in your blogs.
This is why you also have to consider blogging in terms of your overall business strategy and develop it so it builds trust and loyalty in those that read it.
CAN BLOGGING COMPETE?
We touched on the historical trends of blogging vs. video, but those aren't the only two marketing channels open to you or vying for blogging's marketing crown.
Whilst video has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to the likes of YouTube, TikTok and Instagram's own 'Story' feature, it doesn't have the field to itself.
Podcasting has also exploded in the last decade, not only for those listening but those producing them too. Nowadays anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can create a podcast. With these two behemoths growing exponentially, do they give blogging another reason to worry?
The thing is when you're talking in generalities if one platform is growing it's easy to think it might be a problem for another, but in marketing terms, it depends on the personas of your target market.
Whilst podcasts are popular, they are limited in what they can achieve. Whilst there are plenty to choose from, they can be difficult to discover and they are often quite 'niche', which means growing an audience beyond that sphere can be tricky to achieve.
Podcasts also require more investment in equipment, time and resources (at least to produce a quality, professional one). Blogging has an advantage over podcasts in that they have a direct line to the company's bottom line. They can also give you consistent, measurable and reliable metrics that other mediums don't.
It's also worth remembering that you don't have to choose. It doesn't have to be one or the other. If you have the resources to utilise one, two or all the marketing channels available to you, then go for it.
One medium can easily lead to another, benefitting you along the way. You could, for example, write a blog highlighting your new product or service, which leads to a YouTube video showing how it works, which leads to a podcast talking to customers who've benefitted from it, which turns into an email marketing campaign collating them together. And so on.
Providing what you produce aligns with your customer personas, you can create engaging content for your audience on a multitude of platforms all at once.
LEADING THE WAY
There's a benefit of blogging that often gets overlooked and that's as a tool for lead generation. When you're investing your time and resources into creating blogs, there is a way to use those same blogs as a long-term investment.
Once a blog is published, it should be constantly driving organic traffic to your website. Once you have the traffic, you can start to convert those visitors (aka leads) into customers. This can happen on the day it's published, or every single day for years to come generating countless leads.
Compare this to running a single advertising campaign which may also generate thousands of leads over the course of the promotion, but once it's finished, it's dead. No more leads.
Blogs generate organic traffic, which is more important than ever. Whilst you can pay for traffic by running online ads or promotions, once the budget runs out, that traffic will end too.
Having an organic traffic engine, like blogs, means that over time it becomes self-sustaining and only requires the initial time and writing skill to write the blog in the first place.
That said, not everyone who comes to your blog will fit your customer persona. Regardless of how many views you get, if they're not your target market, then you're fighting a losing battle in trying to convert them into customers.
If that's you, or you're not focused on selling something, then come at it from a different perspective.
Instead of conversions, focus on generating new contacts, newsletter sign-ups or social media followers. Whatever your goal is, make it something sustainable and use that as your lead goal to drive content for your blogging.
If sales are your key driver, then avoid making one of the biggest mistakes many brands make which is only creating content for people at the decision-making stage. You need content that appeals to people at EVERY STAGE with offers and promotions suited to that point of their buying journey.
Finally, what if your persona doesn't read blogs, or would rather engage with you through your email marketing campaigns? In that case, blogging won't be high on your list, and that's OK.
You don't NEED a blog, providing you offer your customers something else in return in which case blogging isn't dead, it's just irrelevant.
SOCIAL MEDIA vs. BLOGGING
The other elephant in the crematorium when it comes to blogging is social media.
This is a difficult comparison because social media platforms themselves come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and all serve different purposes.
As we've touched on already, blog posts can serve you well for years and have a long shelf life providing they're kept up-to-date. Social media posts don't have this, nor are they as easily discoverable.
People who find you on socials, tend not to go over what you've posted in the past, mainly because it's irrelevant (or they're looking to cancel you! They're only interested in the current and future you.
Social media content is more about engaging with your audience in the moment and engaging with them one-on-one as you build a community of followers. That said, there is a symbiotic relationship that can exist between blogging and your socials.
For sure, social media offers a great way for you to amplify and publicise your blogs, but your social media can also be an inspiration for topics you can write about.
What are the people you follow posting about? What are the current pain points customers in your sector are feeling? What are the latest developments in your industry? All of these can give you inspiration for your next post.
If you want to publicise your blog, pull out key points from the text and use them as social media posts to drive traffic back to the longer version, but there is a trade-off.
Due to the inherent format, blog posts have a much higher drop-off rate than social media. This is often attributed to the lack of interactivity in blogging. Yes, you can read it, you can share it or you can leave a comment on a blog, but that's about it.
When writing a blog, you have to hook people in with your first few sentences. You have a limited amount of words to get them engaged whereas other formats, like social media, or video have many more visually engaging tools at their disposal and people expect them to be short anyway.
BLOGGING HELPS YOUR BRAND
If you're a new business or looking to build brand awareness, then blogs are also a great way to help you shape and position your product.
Branding isn't just about selling a product, it's about building a narrative around what you do to entice people towards it and blogs are great for doing just that.
Products or services don't exist in isolation. The world we all live in moves quickly, trends come and go and markets evolve constantly, so being able to position yourself within that ever-changing world is a valuable commodity.
Blogging allows you to talk directly to your audience about what you see in the marketplace, trends that are developing, how they impact them (and you) and, more importantly, how what you can do helps them meet those challenges. They also allow you to share stories from and about your customers and the successes they've had thanks to what you do.
If you're selling something, not every blog has to be a hard sell or a direct promotion.
Blogging is a way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. You can use your knowledge and experience to position yourself as a thought leader.
As such your audience will begin to recognise that and the trust between you will grow. Once that trust is established, they will start to look into your brand further and invest their time and money, purely organically.
SQUARING THE CIRCLE
Whilst you can look at statistics til you're blue in the face, analyse metrics and trends for days on end or follow every influencer, the fact is that regardless of the marketing medium you choose, not all of them work in every situation and for every brand.
Blogs aren't one thing that lives or dies at the mercy of marketers, it's just another extension of the marketing space. Is it as popular as it once was? Maybe not. Is it still a viable tool to have in your arsenal? Absolutely.
Marketing, like any facet of your strategic business plan, is an investment and blogs should be a key part of that. Providing that investment is rooted in something tangible that you can utilise to its fullest, then it will pay dividends for many years to come.
Whether you're a big fan of blogs, a vociferous video viewer or a podcast primadonna, there's room for all of them.
Audiences will always ebb and flow and platforms will come and go, but creating quality, engaging and unique content is always going to win the day, regardless of the form it takes.
Is blogging dead? No, but it has definitely developed a life of its own that needs to be nurtured to truly succeed.
We hope that you have enjoyed this post and all our thoughts on the world of blogging. We'd also love to know what you think.
Are you a passionate blogger or have you moved on to other channels? Do you think blogging is dead (or dying)? Have you noticed any differences in your own SEO or lead generation thanks to (or without) blogging? Let us know in the comments below.
If you're looking for someone to write your blogs, then we offer that as a service for many of our clients. Please click here to look at our dedicated copywriting page and then please get in touch to see how we can help you. We look forward to hearing from you.