Blog or Website: Why You Need Both

Do you track your content to better understand what drives the most traffic to your website

If your site is built on the popular WordPress platform, this information is readily available using a number of plugins.

It has been a while since I wrote Blog or Website: The Real Difference. Yet, that article still brings in considerable traffic years later. This tells me it’s a topic that should be addressed further.

It turns out there is one important reason for doing so.

What Has Changed

The influence of mobile in particular is dramatically influencing how websites and blogs are used, and therefore, how they can be designed to achieve maximum conversion. At, you can hire them to design your website to make it like one of the best.

According to Pew Internet, more than 50% of all buying decisions are based upon online information. For local businesses whose sites are frequently accessed from mobile devices, that figure is even higher.

The end game for web marketing is converting traffic into profitable business outcomes. This is predominantly the role of your website. No surprises there.

When you consider the many ways for driving traffic to your website, including blogs, social media, and all forms of advertising, it’s important to understand that some convert better than others.

The Blog is Now a Mobile Show

Consumers search the web for information, answers to questions, and solutions to problems. This is the research they conduct BEFORE searching for companies.

The fact is it’s unlikely buyers will find your website if they have never heard of your business. One way to affect that is with online advertising. However, advertising tactics have little stickiness compared to a blog that educates and informs, and concurrently introduces the business that created that content.

Think of your blog not as commentary, but practical tips, advice, or step-by-step instructions for helping your community do more of what they want to do. This keeps your blog focused on helping, as opposed to selling.

When I wrote Blog or Website I suggested thinking of your blog as a digital magazine. That description is still relevant; however, now in addition to print content, audio and visual media are also in demand. Why? Smartphones.

Millions of smartphones are activated worldwide everyday, making them the go-to device for consuming content. As a result, audio podcast shows are becoming the new talk radio, giving listeners specific information with far fewer commercials, and all of it for FREE.

Teaching is the new selling, and that can be accomplished with a blog that hosts instructional audio, videos, Slideshare presentations, and more. There is no limit to what you can do with your blog to both drive traffic AND encourage conversions.

The Website is a Digital Store

A website should be designed to convert interest into a sale.

If a visitor to your website cannot immediately understand what your store sells and how it can help them, then they may be lost within seconds to another business. So, it is important to use relevant keywords and plain language that practically jumps off the page.

This is where things get tricky, because not everyone is ready to buy just yet.

Assume you get good traffic but it is not converting. This may suggest you need some educational content on the home page. That page is valuable real estate, so make it high value, such as a short, focused video.

You Need Both

The new website is one that sells, while also developing relationships and trust. This is why your business needs an interactive blog to support your website.

That’s the reality of the world we live in. Just as you cannot expect to proceed to marriage after the first date, so it is with eCommerce.

You have to sell, and selling these days is social marketing. It’s a process of educating first with content, building trust with social engagement, and providing a mechanism for the buyer to buy when they are ready.

Years ago blogs were journals, and often stand-alone sites. These days blogs are archived sources of information on the secondary navigation of the primary website. They serve up media that drives traffic to the website and gets shared on the social networks.

Taken to a higher level, your content can be refined into higher value media such as eBooks, tutorials, or more. Keep in mind that media not only informs and educates, it sometimes entertains.

In fact, some are suggesting The Lego Movie now in theaters may be one of the most successful examples of content marketing (on a large scale) to date. Your business can do the same by creatively combining your blog with your website.

Thus, to succeed with online marketing nowadays you have to think of your business as a media company. Your business listens and consistently responds with media that sets up conditions for the purchase of your products and services.

Now over to you. How are you using your business blog?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+

Native Advertising: Content Marketing goes Mainstream

Just when you thought social media was going to rule the digital world, it is now clear that content is not only king – it is going mainstream with a new twist.

With more people sharing online content, and especially as more regular Joes and Janes are able to now call themselves publishers, content is now moving to center stage in new ways.

As new media challenged traditional media, banner and video ads were employed by traditional media outlets to monetize their content.

The realization has now dawned that their system is completely broken – people are not clicking on banner ads.

And why should they, you can get all of the free content you want by taking advantage of Google news. Consumers are not only ignoring banner ads, they despise their interruptive qualities.

Get ready for a new (sort of) kind of advertising that is designed to draw you in and hold your attention – it’s called native advertising.

Content Marketing vs Native Advertising

Content marketing is designed to build a relationship with your audience – by giving them valuable content that is designed especially for them. Content informs, it solves problems, and ideally also entertains whenever possible too.

Content marketing builds an audience to earn the opportunity to occasionally make offers to buy your products and services. Obviously, both the content and the offers are designed for a specific audience.

Native advertising is paid content marketing that most likely (but not always) includes a call-to-action for selling products and services. Promoted posts on Twitter are one form of native advertising – another are old-fashioned “advertorials” in newspapers and magazines (like the one in the image above).

The Truth About Native Advertising

You have already experienced native advertising. The only thing new is the name – and the fact that is sure to take marketing with content to a higher level, maybe even an art that fully uses all of the capabilities of digital media.

Native advertising in the form of long copy ads in newspapers or magazines at first glance look a lot like the regular content that the publication is known for. However, because the FTC does have oversight to protect consumers, there has to be at least a small disclaimer to indicate that the content being shared is indeed a promotional ad.

The look and feel of the content is what makes the ad native, something that is local or native to the publication, so to speak, and therefore, presumably just as readily consumed.

How This Makes for Better Online Marketing

One expectation is that disclosure and disclaimers will soon become nearly impossible to detect, as they can be disguised with images, overshadowed by well written headlines, or lead to amazing offers that people are eager to take advantage of  – think Groupon, that nothing else really matters.

When the native advertising trend goes mainstream, it will be necessary for you to be a better marketer to hold your audience – truly understanding how to attract, build, and maintain a platform that honors the audience.  This is the future of blogging, email newsletters, and all forms of social marketing.

When the playing field gets bigger it attracts more talent, and there is plenty of it out there. So, the winners are going to be those that are honing their practice and taking risks to differentiate their online digital assets for a defined audience.

Tell great stories, use quality images that capture attention and inspire, and above all, seek to create powerful headlines that earn attention – that’s what the native advertisers will be doing.

There is a fine line between native advertising and content marketing. Both attempt to earn the attention of an audience to sell them something. Only the methods differ.

It’s going to be fun. When there is a shift in marketing trends, being among the first to adapt provides invaluable advantages.

Are you ready?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.